Recent study showed that Herceptin could be more helpful for women fighting breast cancer than expected. It can seize the development of the tumors if used at early stages of the disease.
Herceptin was created to cure breast cancer for those patients who have abundance of HER2 protein in their tumor cells. One out of five breast cancer patients has such condition. For other patients this medicine had earlier been considered ineffective.
But according to the research that was conducted at Michigan University, Herceptin can benefit all types of breast cancer patients, whether they are HER2 positive or negative. During the trials on mice, scientists found out that mice that were HER2 negative due to small amount of protein in tumor cells, had large amount of it in rarer cancer stem cells.
It is very important finding because cancer stem cells can grow and distribute to different parts of human body. Breast cancer sometimes transfers itself even to the bones or brain.
During the study, researchers gave Herceptin to the mice that did not have HER2 protein and whose cancer had already moved to the bones. Results showed that the medicine almost stopped the tumors growth. On the other hand, giving the drug at the later stages of growth had small effect.
The study was published in the Cancer Research journal. One of the members of the team says: «The results of the study helped us to understand that we need to concentrate on targeting cancer stem cells as well as using chemotherapy against normal tumor cells».
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