Existing Drug Offers New Hope in Preventing Breast Cancer for High-Risk Women

06/21/16 By Beth Anne

An existing medication may be the key to preventing breast cancer in women carrying the faulty BRCA1 gene, according to a team of Australian researchers.

The researchers pinpointed the cells that give rise to the disease in women who inherit the BRCA1 gene, which puts them at a high risk for an aggressive form of breast cancer.

 "We were excited to discover that these pre-cancerous cells could be identified by a marker protein called RANK,” said Emma Nolan, a PhD student on the research team.

The discovery means that the drug denosumab, an inhibitor of the RANK signaling pathway, may be able to delay or prevent breast cancer growth in women with the faulty BRAC1 gene. Denosumab is currently used to treat osteoporosis and breast cancer that has spread to the bone. Clinical trials are currently underway to determine the drug’s potential in preventing breast cancer.

 "It is very exciting to think that we may be on the path to the 'holy grail' of cancer research, devising a way to prevent this type of breast cancer in women at high genetic risk,” said researcher and professor Jane Visvader.

Read the full story at Science Daily.