Kenya: Light at End of Tunnel for Breast Cancer Patients

17 September 2020

Clinical trials for a new breast cancer drug have returned good news.

The trial results show that the drug can stop the progression of cancer and is not toxic.

The drug, named TTC-352, was developed by oncology researchers at the University of Illinois, Chicago. It was initially developed for women whose breast cancer has grown and stopped responding to hormone therapy.

This means that the drug will be effective in about 80 per cent of breast cancer cases which are categorised as oestrogen receptor positive (ER positive).

"More than half of women with ER Positive breast cancer are resistant to hormone therapy. This leaves them with limited treatment options such as chemotherapy which comes with toxic side effects," said Dr Debra Tonetti, a professor of pharmacology, who led the team of researchers in developing the drug.

Total regression

Dr Tonetti explained that where a woman was ER positive, her oestrogen acts as fuel to the spread and growth of the cancer. As a result, the first line of treatment that doctors will opt for is medication aimed at blocking hormone production.

The new drug, though, works by instigating a total regression of the tumour. "The new drug is a selective human oestrogen receptor partial agonist. Unlike tamoxifen, it also poses reduced risk of uterine cancer development," said Dr Tonetti. Tamoxifen is a drug that blocks the effects of oestrogen in the breast tissue.

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