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Cough medicine could help doctors identify how breast cancer patients metabolize tamoxifen
Date:11/18/2010

Cough medicine could be used as way of predicting how well individual patients metabolise tamoxifen used in the treatment of their breast cancer, according to new research presented at the 22nd EORTC-NCI-AACR [1] Symposium on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics in Berlin today (Friday).

The findings suggest that it could be possible to use cough suppressant syrup as a probe, which would enable doctors to identify patients with altered metabolism and use this information to improve individual treatment, making it more effective and reducing the chances of side-effects.

Tamoxifen, which is widely used both to treat and prevent breast cancer, is metabolised by the body into endoxifen, which is responsible for the drug's anti-cancer activity and which can cause tamoxifen-related side-effects. Two enzymes, CYP2D6 and CYP3A, are responsible for metabolising tamoxifen into endoxifen, and the metabolite forms only if there are sufficient quantities of these enzymes.

Mrs Anne-Joy de Graan, a PhD student in the medical oncology department at the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam (The Netherlands), who presented the study, explained: "At present, all patients treated with tamoxifen in The Netherlands are prescribed a fixed dose of 20 mg or 40 mg. But there is a large difference in the toxicity (for example, hot flushes, endometrial cancer and thrombosis) and efficacy of this agent. This is thought to be the result of variance in endoxifen concentrations between patients. Recently, research has focused on whether this variation in endoxifen levels is caused by patients' individual genetic make-up. We know that there are genetic variations that cause women to be 'poor metabolisers'. This means that these women cannot form enough endoxifen due to absence of CYP2D6 enzymatic activity." In addition, other factors can influence a way a woman metabolises tamoxifen, such as CYP3A enzymatic activity, the use of other medicines, alcohol consumpt
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Contact: Emma Mason
wordmason@mac.om
ECCO-the European CanCer Organisation
Source:Eurekalert

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