This diabetes drug may help treat aggressive breast cancer

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In a new study from the National University of Singapore, researchers developed an approach to target highly resistant triple-negative breast cancers (TNBCs) with diabetes drug metformin.

Metformin is a widely prescribed “over-the-counter” medication for Type 2 diabetes. There is some evidence that patients taking metformin for a long time have significantly reduced the risk of developing cancer.

However, despite well-characterized anticancer effects and the low cost of metformin, its use as an anticancer agent has serious drawbacks.

Metformin is poorly taken up by cells. In order to achieve therapeutic concentrations, it has to be taken repeatedly in high doses, which may cause serious side effects in cancer patients.

In the study, the team developed an approach to chemically conjugate metformin, as well as its analog phenformin.

By taking advantage of the electrochemical activity of the gold-based molecule, the team successfully delivered metformin into cancer cells with high selectivity.

The anticancer activity of the lead drug candidate developed by the team named 3met, was found to be more than 6,000 times higher when compared to metformin.

The research team injected the drug candidate into murine models having breast tumors at their nipple region and monitored the growth of the tumors.

They found that the growth of tumors in a drug-treated group completely stopped after three weeks, indicating the unique anticancer potential of the drug candidate.

A patent application has been filed on this discovery. The research team is actively working on the development of other efficient drugs for the treatment of chemo-resistant cancers.

If you care about breast cancer, please read studies about walnut may change genes in breast cancer, improve survival and findings of breast density: common myths every woman should know.

For more information about breast cancer treatment and prevention, please see recent studies about the biological link between high blood pressure and breast cancer and results showing that new method may enhance treatment for breast and pancreatic cancer.

The study is published in Angewandte Chemie International Edition. One author of the study is Prof Ang Wee Han.

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