Kinder form of chemotherapy could drastically improve treatment of thousands of cancer patients
- Scientists have worked out how to soften up tumours ahead of treatment
- This makes them more sensitive to existing chemotherapy drugs
- Should also mean medicines work better, so more lives will be saved
- And allow doctors to give lower doses, cutting the risk of side-effects
The treatment of thousands of cancer patients could be ‘drastically improved’ by a kinder form of chemotherapy.
British scientists have worked out how to soften up tumours ahead of treatment, making them more sensitive to existing chemo drugs.
This should mean that the vital medicines work better – leading to more lives being saved.
It should also allow doctors to give lower doses, cutting the risk of side-effects.
This is important because some cancer treatments are so gruelling that patients chose to forgo them to improve their quality of life.
Scientists have worked out how to soften up tumours ahead of treatment, making them more sensitive to existing chemo drugs. This should mean the drugs work better and allow doctors to give lower doses, cutting the risk of side-effects
In other cases, patients feel so ill on chemotherapy that the dose has to be lowered.
Some survive cancer but are left with permanent damage from the drug that saved their life.
The Manchester University research focused on a family of chemotherapy drugs called taxanes.
These are used to treat a range of cancers, including breast, ovarian and prostate, and include paclitaxel and docetaxel.
They are routinely used but do not work in all patients and it hasn’t been clear why.
The study, which was funded by Cancer Research UK, showed that a protein called Bcl-xL helps cancer cells survive chemotherapy.
Some cancers make more Bcl-xL than others – and drug that stop it from working were shown to have a ‘dramatic’ effect.
Given alongside taxanes, they killed far more cancer cells in a dish than taxanes alone, the journal Cancer Cell reports.
Lead researcher Stephen Taylor said the two-in-one treatment could be a life-saver.
Although much more work is needed, the combination treatment could be of particular value in treating ovarian cancer.
Around 70 per cent of women with this cancer are given taxanes – but they stop working in almost all cases and two-thirds of ovarian cancer patients die within a decade of diagnosis.
Professor Taylor said: ‘This important research shows us there’s potential to boost the cancer-fighting power of chemotherapy – and do more with less.
The British researchers focused on a a family of chemotherapy drugs called taxanes. These are used to treat a range of cancers, including breast (pictured), ovarian and prostate, and include paclitaxel and docetaxel
‘This new combination could “soften-up” cancer cells, making it easier for chemotherapy to deliver the final blow and destroy the tumour.
‘And the good news is that drugs targeting Bcl-xL are already out there and being tested in clinical trials.
‘Using this combination of drugs could improve treatment for patients receiving taxanes and lower their chemotherapy dose, which would also help to reduce side-effects.’
Dr Emma Smith, of Cancer Research UK, said: ‘Predicting which patients will benefit most from chemotherapy is essential if we’re going to make cancer treatments more effective and kinder.
‘In cases where chemotherapy doesn’t seem to work straight away, we could add drugs that target Bcl-xL and hopefully see a real difference.
‘It’s still early days for this research but, if the results are confirmed in clinical trials, it has the potential to improve treatment for thousands of cancer patients.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3159449/Kinder-form-chemotherapy-drastically-improve-treatment-thousands-cancer-patients.html#ixzz3fqPKhw4Z
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— Louis Sheehan