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GUMC researchers say flower power may reduce resistance to breast cancer drug tamoxifen
Date:2/16/2010

Washington, DC Combining tamoxifen, the world's most prescribed breast cancer agent, with a compound found in the flowering plant feverfew may prevent initial or future resistance to the drug, say researchers at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The finding, reported online in FASEB Feb. 12, provides new insight into the biological roots of that resistance, and also tests a novel way to get around it.

"A solution to tamoxifen resistance is sorely needed, and if a strategy like this can work, it would make a difference in our clinical care of breast cancer," says the study's lead investigator, Robert Clarke, PhD, DSc, a professor of oncology and physiology & biophysics at Lombardi, a part of Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC). Clarke is also the interim director of GUMC's Biomedical Graduate Research Organization.

Clarke added that the purified research chemical they tested, parthenolide, a derivative of feverfew, is being tested by other scientists as treatment for a variety of cancers, as well as other health conditions. Feverfew has long been a staple of natural medicine, and is particularly known for its effects on headaches and arthritis. Latin for "fever reducer," feverfew is a common garden bush with small daisy-like flowers.

"The chemical clearly has potential, and we ought to be able to figure out fairly quickly if it can help solve tamoxifen's resistance problem," Clarke says.

Tamoxifen is a treatment of choice for breast cancer that is estrogen receptor positive (ER+), meaning that the hormone estrogen drives cancer growth. Most newly diagnosed breast cancers about 70 percent - fall into that category. But about half of these cancers do not initially respond to tamoxifen, which is designed to block the hormone from binding to the cell's protein receptor, and many patients that do respond are at risk for developing resistance and cancer relapse.

In this study, Clarke and a team of resear
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Contact: Karen Mallet
km463@georgetown.edu
215-514-9751
Georgetown University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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