Breast cancer tumours killed in 11 days with ‘staggering’ new therapy

Experts hail findings as ‘astonishing’ and suggest results of trial for one of most aggressive forms of breast cancer could revolutionise future treatment

A new cancer therapy that uses nanotechnology has effectively cured terminal breast cancer in tests on mice.

The “astounding” research has raised hopes of a cure based on the delivery of drugs to vital organs using a technique that bypasses cell defences resistent to treatment.

In tests on mice with incurable breast cancer that had spread to the lungs, half were free of the disease for at least eight months – the equivalent of 24 years in humans.

Scientists said that even if the effects could be partly transerred to humans, it would represent a significant breakthrough for metastatic cancers, where the disease has spread from the breast to other parts of the body.

“We are talking about changing the landscape of metastatic disease, so it’s no longer a death sentence.”
Dr Mauro Ferrari

The research comes just days after another “staggering” new breast cancer therapy was found to have destroyed deadly tumours in just 11 days.

Mauro Ferrari, president of the Houston Methodist Research Institute in Texas, said clinical trials on the first human patients could begin as early as next year.

“I would never want to over-promise to the thousands of patients looking for a cure but the data is astounding,” he said.

“If this research bears out in humans and we see even a fraction of the survival time, we are still talking about dramatically extending life for many years.

“That’s essentially a providing a cure in a patient population that is now being told there is none.”

However, British experts warned that more research was needed.

Baroness Delyth Morgan, of Breast Cancer Now, told the Daily Mail: ‘While the results look promising in mice, there is still a long way to go before we will know if this technique could be an effective treatment for women.”

Dr Ferrari and his team used a standard chemotherapy drug called doxorubicin but absorbed it into microscopic discs made of silicon, which disguise the drug from the cancer.

Once inside the tumour cells, the discs break down and release the drug

Writing in the journal Nature Biotechnology, Dr Ferrari said he had only tried the technique against one type of breast cancer but expressed optimism that it would work against other types.

“We are talking about changing the landscape of metastatic disease, so it’s no longer a death sentence,” he added.

“Lung and liver metastases are the two main reasons why we lose cancer patients. The results we have proven with this paper is that we can provide a functional cure; we can essentially cure long-term, [giving] disease-free survival for about 50 per cent of the animals that we provided this therapy to.”


Breast cancer

The signs and symptoms of breast cancer can include:

  • A change in size or shape of the breast
  • A lump or thickening that feels different from the rest of the breast tissue
  • Redness or a rash on the skin and/or around the nipple
  • A change in skin texture such as puckering or dimpling
  • Discharge (liquid) that comes from the nipple without squeezing
  • Nipple becoming inverted or changing its position or shape
  • A swelling in the armpit or around the collarbone
  • Constant pain in the breast or armpit

What to do if you find a change?

  • Most changes are likely to be normal or due to a benign (not cancer) breast condition
  • If you notice a change, visit a GP as soon as possible
  • A GP may feel there is no need for further investigation or may refer you to a breast clinic
  • If you do not feel comfortable with a male GP, ask if there is a female GP available


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