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Press Release
Asthma drug prevents spread of breast cancer
Thursday, November 4, 2010

A drug commonly used in Japan and Korea to treat asthma has been found to stop the spread of breast cancer cells traditionally resistant to chemotherapy, according to a new study led by St. Michael's pathologist Dr. Gerald Prud'homme.

"Tranilast, a drug approved for use in Japan and South Korea, and not in use in Canada or the U.S., has been used for more than two decades to treat asthma and other allergic disorders including allergic rhinitis and atopic dermatitis," Dr. Prud'homme says. "Now, our study is the first to discover it not only stops breast cancer from spreading but how the drug targets breast cancer cells."

Researchers grew breast cancer stem cells, which give rise to other cancer cells, in culture. The cells were injected into two groups of mice, including one group, which was also treated with tranilast. Dr. Prud'homme and his colleagues found the drug reduced growth of the primary cancerous tumour by 50 per cent and prevented the spread of the cancer to the lungs. Researchers also identified a molecule in the cancer cell that binds to tranilast and appears to be responsible for this anti-cancer effect.

Tranilast binds to a molecule known as the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR), which regulates cell growth and some aspects of immunity. This makes the drug beneficial in treating allergies, inflammatory diseases and cancer.

"For the first time, we were able to show that tranilast shows promise for breast cancer treatment in levels commonly well-tolerated by patients who use the drug for other medical conditions," Dr. Prud'homme said. "These results are very encouraging and we are expanding our studies. Further studies are necessary to determine if the drug is effective against different types of breast and other cancers, and its interaction with anti-cancer drugs.


St. Michael's Hospital:

Thanks to St. Michael's Hospital for this article.

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Guest Comment
Sun, Nov 07, 2010, 6:35 pm CST

This would be a wonderful development if it's turns out to be true.

biochem belle
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Mon, Nov 08, 2010, 3:43 pm CST

There's a big difference between 'true' and 'effective in human disease'.

Initially I was going to say that it's impossible to assess the quality and breadth of the work at this point, since there is no publication cited--which often means that an organization's PR dept. has jumped the gun on reporting it. As it turns out, the work has indeed been published in PLoS ONE, so the St. Michael's PR dept. for the time being only loses points for failing to cite the journal in which the paper was published. I will wait until I've read the paper to assess the science and the promise of this approach.

Brian Krueger, PhD
Columbia University Medical Center
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Mon, Nov 08, 2010, 4:05 pm CST

The final touches are being put on the rating system. It should be live some time after the wedding :)

I'm not sure how this one slipped through.  I've been trying to only post peer reviewed PR pieces until I get the rating system up.  Thanks for finding the paper Belle!

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