Targeted drugs for breast and lung cancer could be used together to overcome resistance to treatment in several different tumour types, a new study shows. Scientists discovered that when the breast cancer drug palbociclib was combine with the lung cancer drug crizotinib; so the two-drug combination was significantly more effective against cancer cells in the laboratory than either drug used on its own.
Palbociclib has been describe as one of the biggest advances in women with advance; so breast cancer for two decades so the prospect of being able to make the treatment even more effective is exciting. The new findings also suggest that the combination approach could broaden the clinical use of palbociclib and other drugs that work in the same way beyond breast cancer to include many other tumour types as well.
Breast and lung cancer
Scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research, London; also UCL Cancer Institute discover that resistance; so to palbociclib is drive by a protein which is target by crizotinib providing the rationale for using these two drugs together. Palbociclib is one of a group of drugs which are currently use to treat patients with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer; so by blocking the function of two proteins CDK4 and CDK6 which promote tumour cell division and cancer progression.
Based on this discovery, the researchers found that pairing CDK4/6 inhibitors such as palbociclib together with crizotinib; which blocks MET activity create a combination treatment; so that was much more effective than either drug; so on its own against cancer cells grown in the lab or human tumours growing in mice. The combine agents act synergistically not only to block cancer cell division; but also to induce senescence a state in which cells are thought to stop growing; also dividing but without undergoing cell death.
The researchers achieve promising results in cancer cells derive from different organs in the body from breast and lung to bowel indicating that there is potential to expand clinical use of palbociclib and other CDK4/6 inhibitors beyond breast cancer to benefit a wider range of patients. To reveal the mechanism underlying the resistance; so the researchers search systematically using robotics and sophisticate imaging to identify how CDK2 is activate to allow cells to evade CDK4/6 inhibitors.
Evaluating the safety
The researchers hope that their discoveries can be translate to patients; so initially by evaluating the safety and effectiveness of combining CDK4/6 inhibitors; so like palbociclib with MET inhibitors such as crizotinib. It may be possible to develop lab tests to identify which patients would benefit from the use of the crizotinib in this way. And looking a little further into the future; so the researchers also highlight the possibility arising from their research; so that combining CDK4/6 inhibitors with drugs that block FAK could be even more effective and more generally applicable.
“They have shown the potential of combining two precision medicines; so for breast and lung cancer together to create a two-prong attack that strips cancer cells of their resistance. They still need to do more work to understand the full potential of combination treatment; hence to increase the effectiveness of these drugs; but the approach looks highly promising and has the potential to be effective against several cancer types.”
Study co-lead Professor Sibylle Mittnacht, Professor of Molecular Cancer Biology at UCL Cancer Institute, said; “Our evidence shows that existing medicines be use to overcome resistance; so to treatment in a frequent form of breast cancer in women. “In addition, use of a current breast cancer medicine together with these other medicines; hence could be a new, promising route for the treatment of lung and several other cancers.”