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Through-the-nipple breast cancer therapy shows promise in early tests
Date:10/26/2011

Delivering anticancer drugs into breast ducts via the nipple is highly effective in animal models of early breast cancer, and has no major side effects in human patients, according to a report by Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center researchers in Science Translational Medicine on October 26. The results of the study are expected to lead to more advanced clinical trials of so-called intraductal treatment for early breast cancer.

"Our results support the theory that by treating the breast tissue directly we can reach a much more potent drug concentration where it is needed, with far fewer adverse effects on tissues outside the breasts," says oncologist Vered Stearns, M.D., Ph.D., the Breast Cancer Chair in Oncology and co-director of the Breast Cancer Program at the Kimmel Cancer Center, who supervised the clinical part of the study.

"This has been a classic translational medicine collaboration between a bench researcher and a clinician scientist," says cancer biologist Saraswati Sukumar, Ph.D., who supervised the animal tests.

Sukumar, the Barbara B. Rubenstein Professor of Oncology at the Kimmel Cancer Center, and co-director with Stearns of the Breast Cancer Program, began intraductal research more than a decade ago, reasoning that because most breast cancers originate from cells lining the milk ducts, early or preventive therapies should be delivered directly to the ducts via the nipple, rather than intravenously. In 2006, in the journal Cancer Research, Sukumar and her colleagues reported on an initial successful test of the technique using the chemotherapy drug doxorubicin against early ductal breast cancers in rats.

For the current study, Stearns set up a small clinical trial to determine the feasibility of Sukumar's technique in 17 breast cancer patients. Starting first with dextrose -- essentially sugar water -- and later with escalating doses of the same doxorubicin formulation used on Sukumar's rats (pegylated
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Contact: Vanessa Wasta
wasta@jhmi.edu
410-614-2916
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Source:Eurekalert

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