Efficacy against drug metastasis in certain types of cancer

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Barcelona (EFE).- The Vall d’Hebron Research Institute (VHIR) has demonstrated in animal models the effectiveness of a drug in preventing the development of metastases in two of the most common childhood tumors as well as cancer breast.

Metastases are responsible for more than 90% of cancer deaths, but to date there are very few specific therapies to prevent them.

The study, published this Wednesday in the journal “Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences”, offers a possible new therapeutic strategy that has proven effective in mice, pending confirmation of the results in a human clinical trial soon.

The protagonist is the drug RA08, developed by VHIR and the biotechnology company BCN Peptides, which acts as an inhibitor of a protein, integrin alpha9 (ITGA9), key in the development of metastases.

A patient undergoes a mammogram in a file image. EFE/ Quique Garcia

In mice, the researchers observed that between 50 and 70% of treated animals did not develop metastases from two of the most common childhood cancers: neuroblastoma, which occurs when tumors appear in nervous tissue, and rhabdomyosarcoma, when it originates in soft tissues, such as muscle.

As for breast cancer, the researchers did not find complete reductions but a decrease in the intensity of metastases, with 50% fewer outbreaks.

The three types of tumors have in common high survival rates, which are however greatly reduced when patients develop metastases.

“The drug is designed to prevent the formation of metastases, not to treat those that have already developed, so it would be more of a preventative treatment,” said lead researcher of the VHIR Childhood Cancer and Hematological Diseases group, Josep Rome.

The researcher highlighted that no side effects of the drug were observed in mice, therefore, if this low toxicity is confirmed in humans, it could be used for any patient of these two types childhood cancers studied, in order to prevent metastases and reduce mortality.

But above all, he stressed, it would be indicated for patients with certain tumor subtypes already known in advance to have a high probability of metastasis.

Regarding breast cancer, Rome indicated that, based on observations in mice, this could be an “interesting” strategy for the prevention of metastasis, although he pointed out that studies are lacking to determine in which sub- types of tumors it would work.

Same thing with tumors of a different nature: “The results are so good that we are convinced that this can be transferred to other cancers, in children or adults, but we need more time to investigate” , underlined Roma.

This research began with grants from the TV3 La Marató 2009 program and later received grants from ACCIÓ/FEDER (RIS3CAT) and the Carlos III Health Institute.

The Albert Bosch Foundation, the Mi compañero de viaje association, the Abidal Foundation and the Tot per tu association also collaborated.

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