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Scientists hail drug that launches two-pronged attack on breast cancer cells

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Scientists have proved for the first time that a breast cancer drug can simultaneously attack cancer cells in two different ways.

Researchers from the Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Centre at the Institute of Cancer Research hope the find can help in the development of more two-in-one treatments.

This would mean that breast cancer patients would potentially take fewer drugs in future years.

The team demonstrated that an experimental compound known as PTK/ZK acted as an ‘aromatase inhibitor’, preventing the growth of hormone-sensitive breast cancers relying on oestrogen for survival.

This accounts for more than 70% of breast cancer cases.

The compound was originally developed as an ‘angiogenesis inhibitor’ to block a tumour’s blood supply and slow its growth.

Dr Susana Banerjee, a member of the team, said: ‘Developing one drug that attacks a tumour in two completely different ways may provide a better approach to fighting breast cancer.

‘Not only does this approach have the potential to boost the effectiveness of existing drugs, it could also mean that patients need to take fewer drugs to treat tumours.’

The laboratory study was funded by Avon Cosmetics, The Mary-Jean Mitchell Green Foundation and Novartis Pharma in a joint venture and is published in the current issue of Cancer Research.

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