Drugs May Fight Two Dismal Cancers

Kidney and breast cancer cells respond to romidepsin and decitabine

(RxWiki News) The development of a new cancer drug involves many years and millions of dollars. That’s one of the reasons why scientists are looking at new uses for existing drugs and combining approved drugs. This approach may work well in treating two really bad cancers.

Combining two chemotherapies may be effective in treating triple negative breast and kidney cancers that have spread.

"Find out which drug combinations can treat your cancer."

In a preclinical laboratory study, researchers at Mayo Clinic in Florida have found that Istodax (romidepsin) and Dacogen (decitabine) work well together in battling these two cancers.

Triple negative cancer is very aggressive because it doesn’t have any targets that drugs can attack. And the outlook is poor for metastatic (has spread) clear cell renal cell carcinoma, the most common form of kidney cancer.

Both of the drugs activate a gene called sFRP1 (secreted frizzled related protein one) that’s disabled in a number of cancers. sFRP1 goes to work to halt the growth of cancer and kill tumor cells.

"We now have the basis for a clinical trial aimed at providing effective therapy for two drug-resistant cancers and perhaps many more tumor types in the future," said molecular biologist, John Copland, PhD in a Mayo Clinic press release.

Earlier studies by Dr. Copland and colleagues showed that Istodax helps to turn on genes that are designed to suppress genes.

"Individually, each drug did not induce any form of cell death but, together, they killed all of the different cell lines of kidney and triple negative breast cancer that we tested in the laboratory," said lead investigator Simon Cooper, PhD, a molecular biologist who specializes in kidney cancer.

If further studies reveal that these drugs work, biopsies in the future may identify patients who have sFRP1 and would benefit from this combination therapy.

This study was published in the July issue of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.

The study was funded in part by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the David & Lois Stulberg Endowed Fund for Kidney Cancer Research, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, James C. and Sarah K. Kennedy Mayo Clinic Research Career Development Award for Clinicians, The Brenda E. and Roger S. Luca Family Endowment at The Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare Foundation, RITA Foundation (Research Is The Answer), Scheidel Foundation and a grant for rare cancers from Dr. Ellis and Dona Brunton.

No financial disclosures were publicly available.

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Review Date: 
August 22, 2012