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PINC trial launched to test new treatment for pre-invasive breast cancer
Date:3/2/2010

standard of care surgery to treat their DCIS disease. We believe that the treatment will kill the DCIS cells before they become invasive and shrink the size of the DCIS. We may be able to prevent someone from needing a mastectomy and offer them breast conserving surgery."

Once patients have consented and enrolled, the size of their breast tumor will be measured through a non-invasive imaging technique called magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Tissue samples will be taken from patients by Inova's doctors and transported to CAPMM for analysis. The PINC trial will combine chloroquine with Tamoxifen depending on the patient's tumor profile. After treatment, the MRI will be repeated to see if the tumor has shrunk and the patient will then proceed with surgery and follow up therapy.

What made the researchers think to use a malaria drug to treat breast cancer? According to Ginny Espina, a CAPMM research assistant professor, it works by starving the cancerous cells.

"Pre-cancerous cells have adapted to survive inside the milk duct without a blood supply and with very few nutrients. They overcome starvation through a process called autophagy. It's a way for a cell to make its own food and store it in a 'cookie jar.' In the breast ducts, the DCIS cells use these 'cookies' to survive and potentially spread. Simply put, chloroquine goes into the cell's 'cookie jars' and prevents the cells from using that food so that they eventually die from starvation," says Espina.

Of note, researchers are also using chloroquine in patients with unique types of brain tumors.

The treatment of DCIS is controversial because most DCIS lesions remain dormant and do not become invasive. Physicians do not want to over treat DCIS and cause unnecessary side effects if the DCIS does not become aggressive. However, chloroquine is a relatively safe treatment that does not have the severe side effects of typical chemotherapy.

"I think the most exciting
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Contact: Marjorie Musick
mmusick@gmu.edu
703-993-8781
George Mason University
Source:Eurekalert

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