Drug to reverse breast cancer spread in development

January 26, 2014

Researchers at Cardiff University are developing a novel compound known to reverse the spread of malignant breast cancer cells.

The vast majority of deaths from cancer result from its progressive spread to , known as metastasis. In up to 12,000 patients a year develop this form of the disease, often several years after initial diagnosis of a .

In a recent series of studies researchers identified a previously unknown critical role for a potential cancer causing gene, Bcl3, in .

"We showed that suppressing this gene reduced the spread of cancer by more than 80%," said Dr Richard Clarkson from Cardiff University's European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute.

"Our next goal was to then find a way to suppress Bcl3 pharmacologically. Despite great improvements in therapy of early stage breast cancer, the current therapeutic options for patients with late stage metastatic disease are limited.

"There is therefore a clear unmet clinical need to identify new drugs to reverse or at least to slow down disease progression" he added.

Dr Clarkson and his team joined up with researchers Dr Andrea Brancale and Dr Andrew Westwell from the Cardiff University School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, to develop small chemical inhibitors of the Bcl3 gene.

Computer aided modeling of how the Bcl3 gene functions inside the cell allowed the group to identify a pocket on the surface of Bcl3 essential for its function. By screening a virtual compound library for chemicals that could fit inside this pocket, using state-of-the-art computer software, they identified a drug candidate that potently inhibits Bcl3.

The compound was then trialed on mice with metastatic disease. The resulting effect was that the drug completely inhibited the development of the mice's metastatic tumours.

With financial backing from Tiziana Pharmaceuticals, work is now underway to progress the compound to clinical trials. The aim is to develop a therapeutic agent capable of blocking in breast cancer and a variety of tumour types.

The study will be published in the Cancer Research journal.

Explore further: Discovering a new role for a breast cancer gene

Related Stories

Alternative target for breast cancer drugs

July 19, 2013

Scientists have identified higher levels of a receptor protein found on the surface of human breast tumour cells that may serve as a new drug target for the treatment of breast cancer. The results, which are published today ...

Recommended for you

Cancer's big data problem

October 20, 2016

Data is pouring into the hands of cancer researchers, thanks to improvements in imaging, models and understanding of genetics. Today the data from a single patient's tumor in a clinical trial can add up to one terabyte—the ...

Gene fusions can lead to glioblastoma in children

October 20, 2016

Every year, about 60 children and adolescents in Germany are diagnosed with glioblastoma, a very aggressive type of brain cancer, which is still mostly untreatable. Now, scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Molecular ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.