FAIRFAX, Va.Can a drug that has been used to treat malaria for years possibly be used to treat breast cancer before it becomes invasive? That's what researchers at George Mason University's Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine (CAPMM) and Inova Breast Care Institute (IBCI) are trying to prove.
In January, the IBCI and CAPMM launched the PINC Trial, short for Preventing Invasive Breast Neoplasia with Chloroquine. This three-year clinical trial will test the effectiveness of the anti-malarial drug chloroquine in treating 90 women with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), a type of breast cancer in which the cancer cells start in the milk ducts but have not yet become invasive and spread in the breast. Once the cancer cells start to spread in the breast and throughout the body, the condition is considered invasive and can often be fatal.
With an estimated 254,650 patients diagnosed in 2009 alone, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women according to statistics by the American Cancer Society. Approximately one quarter of those patients will have DCIS. Many more women are being diagnosed with DCIS, non-invasive breast cancer, with the routine use of screening mammography.
According to Kirsten Edmiston, MD, the trial's principal investigator and medical director of cancer services at Inova Health System, the trial is designed to prevent breast cancer cells from becoming deadly by killing pre-invasive cancer cells using a novel therapy with chloroquine, which has been used to treat malaria in the past.
"We have identified a particular cellular process called autophagy that is very involved in the survival of DCIS. In pre-clinical work, our team found that if we block autophagy in DCIS cells with chloroquine, that it kills the cells so that they're not able to become invasive," says Edmiston. "What this trial is proposing is to treat DCIS patients with chloroquine, an autophagy blocker before they receive
|Contact: Marjorie Musick|
George Mason University