HIV Rx May Prevent Breast Cancer Metastasis

Breast cancer metastasis prevented with HIV drugs in study

(RxWiki News) A class of drugs called CCR5 antagonists has revolutionized the care of HIV patients. These meds slow the disease from progressing to full-blown AIDS. A new preclinical study demonstrates these drugs may also be useful in cancer.

HIV drugs - CCR5 antagonists - may help prevent fast-growing breast cancers from spreading (metastasizing).

"Keep asking about new drugs available to treat your cancer."

Researchers at Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University have discovered that a cell receptor used by HIV - CCR5 - is also seen in breast cancer cells. CCR5 directs the cancer to spread to other tissues.

Because the two HIV drugs - Maraviroc and Vicriviroc - block CCR5, they may prevent the movement and spread of breast cancer cells.

"These results are dramatic," said study senior author, Richard Pestell, MD, PhD, FACP, director of Jefferson's Kimmel Cancer Center and chair of the Department of Cancer Biology at Thomas Jefferson University.

The team showed that the drugs are particularly potent against basal breast cancer cells, which are usually associated with metastasis and don't respond to hormonal therapies, such as tamoxifen and other estrogen blockers.

Existing treatments include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, but the outcomes are typically poor.

For this study, researchers tested how CCR5 antagonists work on human breast cell lines in lab and animal experiments. They worked with 2,254 breast cancer samples.

Mice were given the antagonists, and the team used advanced imaging technology to track the path of basal breast cancer cells invading other tissues.

Mice that had received the drugs had a more than 90 percent reduction in the size and number of metastases than untreated mice.

"Our preclinical studies provide the rational basis for studying the use of CCR5 antagonists as new treatments to block the dissemination of basal breast cancers," said Dr. Pestell concludes.

This research could be applied to other cancers such as prostate and gastric malignancies where CCR5 encourages metastasis.

The study was published in a recent issue of Cancer Research.

It was supported by National Institutes of Health grants, Dr. Ralph and Marian C. Falk Medical Research Trust, the Margaret Q. Landenberg Research Foundation, the Pennsylvania Department of Health and by PASPA-UNAM.

No conflicts of interest were provided.

Review Date: 
June 7, 2012