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New Drug Effective So Far in Treating Breast Cancer

Update Date: Jun 04, 2013 02:32 PM EDT

The recent buzz surrounding breast cancer continues since actress Angelina Jolie announced that she underwent a double mastectomy as a preventative measure. Jolie stated that since she has the BRCA gene mutation, which is tied to increasing one's risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers, she could not take any chances. A recent study post Jolie's announcement discovered that the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations appear to be more common in African American women, suggesting that they might need extra tests and screenings to protect themselves. Although breast cancer treatment is relatively effective, researchers have continued to search for something better. In a new study, researchers developed a drug that would cater to people with the BRCA gene mutations.

The trial included 70 patients who were given the drug called BMN 673. The researchers found hat 23 out of the 28 patients with ovarian cancer and 12 out of the 18 with breast cancer experienced improvement. The researchers found lesions, also known as cracks, on the sides of the tumors in 11 ovarian cancer patients and seven breast cancer patients. These lesions indicate that the drug is effective in attacking the two types of cancer.

The drug was designed to target people with the BRCA genetic mutations because these mutations could lead to more severe cases. BRCA gene mutation prevents the body to naturally fight cancer cells. Once the cancer cells develop in people with a faulty BRCA gene, the tumor's growth becomes highly dependent on a protein known as PARP. PARP is responsible for fixing damaged DNA after cell division. BMN 673 targets PARP in order to prevent tumor growth.

"Our promising study showed that BMN 673, a potent member of a family of potential drugs called PARP inhibitors, had excellent anti-tumor activity," said Professor of Experimental Cancer Medicine, Johann de bono, from the Institute of Cancer Research in London, United Kingdom said. "[These drugs] offer the potential of more personalized treatments to patients, including those with BRCA mutations."

The researchers plan on expanding the size of the drug trial. They hope to find that same effects in this new trial. The findings were presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting that took place in Chicago, IL. 

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