Best of Breast: news for week ending 5 December 2014

The latest medical discoveries for breast cancer and cancer, for the week ending 5 December 2014 from Google Alerts.

Anyone who has breast cancer probably knows about the benefits of eating broccoli or broccoli sprouts.  Both contain (amongst other worthy substances) sulforaphane, which has cancer-fighting properties.


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Now a company, Evgen, has jumped on the bandwagon and created a sulforaphane supplement.  They’ve made it sound like the cure for cancer, but I’m not sure how this supplement differs from say, Indole-3-carbinole or DIM.

So should we all rush out and buy the family pack?

Here’s what Food For Breast Cancer has to say:

“We recommend consuming broccoli as food and against consuming broccoli pills that have been enhanced to boost the proportion of the presumed key anti-cancer chemicals in broccoli.

There is some evidence that concentrated cruciferous vegetable extracts can act as estrogen agonists and promote breast cancer cell proliferation.

Also, the anticancer properties of broccoli are likely to be the result of synergistic interaction of its various chemical components – isolated components have successfully inhibited proliferation in the laboratory, but their efficacy and safety in humans needs to be evaluated in large scale clinical trials.”

It’s very tempting to get your greens from a pill, and if you’re like me always on the look-out for the latest cancer cure-all, but once again moderation is the key.  Get your sulforaphane from the food you eat.

1.  Vaccine slows progress of breast cancer

  • AN EXPERIMENTAL breast cancer vaccine has been shown to slow progression of the disease in human patients.
  • Of 14 women patients with advanced breast cancer who received the vaccine, half showed no sign of tumour growth a year later.
  • The vaccine had an effect even in those with immune systems weakened by the disease and chemotherapy.
  • Specifically, the new vaccine primes white blood cells, an integral part of the body’s immune system, to target cells that have the mammaglobin-A protein.
  • Breast cancer tumours produce it at abnormally high levels.
  • Scientists now plan to follow the small pilot trial with a larger study of newly diagnosed patients with stronger immune systems.
  • The vaccine would not be effective in the small number of breast cancer patients whose tumours do not generate mammaglobin-A.

For more information:  Clin Cancer Res December 1, 2014 20; 5964, doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-14-0059, Safety and Preliminary Evidence of Biologic Efficacy of a Mammaglobin-A DNA Vaccine in Patients with Stable Metastatic Breast Cancer

2.  Scientists uncover gene associated with triple-negative breast cancer

  • Scientists have identified a biomarker strongly associated with the aggressive triple negative breast cancer (TNBC).
  • They found that found that TNBC patients with a high expression of the RASAL2 gene possessed a poorer survival rate compared to those who had lower levels of RASAL2 in their tumours.
  • The identification of RASAL2 now provides a target for scientists to develop new therapeutics to treat the disease.

For more information:  J Clin Invest. 2014;124(12):5291–5304. doi:10.1172/ JCI76711, RASAL2 activates RAC1 to promote triple-negative breast cancer progression

3.  Biphosphonates may prevent breast, lung and colon cancers

  • A research team has showed that bisphosphonates block the abnormal growth signals passed through the human EGF receptors (HER), including the forms of this protein family that make some tumors resistant to leading treatments.
  • Of the two newly published studies, one describes the evidence that bisphosphonates block abnormal growth signals through HER family receptors
  • The second examines the potential applications for this new mechanism: cancer prevention, combination with existing treatments, and use against treatment-resistant tumors.
  • Giving mice bisphosphonates early on prevented HER-driven tumors from forming in the first place.
  • Combining bisphosphonates with a tyrosine kinase inhibitor not only stopped tumor growth in mice, but reversed it.
  • In contrast, mice with colon cancer cells that do not signal for growth using HER receptors remained insensitive to bisphosphonate action.

For more information:  PNAS (1) vol. 111 no. 50, Agnes Stachnik,  17995–18000, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1421422111, Repurposing of bisphosphonates for the prevention and therapy of nonsmall cell lung and breast cancer (2) Tony Yuen,  17989–17994, doi: 10.1073/pnas.142141011, Bisphosphonates inactivate human EGFRs to exert antitumor actions

4.  Maker of broccoli-derived cancer drug to float on London stock exchange

  • Evegen, a company that is making a cancer drug derived from broccoli intends to float on the London stock exchange later this month.
  • The Liverpool-based biotech firm has synthesised the naturally occurring compound, sulforaphane, derived from broccoli and other greens.
  • The drug’s safety and tolerability has already been tested on 47 healthy volunteers. It will also conduct preclinical trials on animals for multiple sclerosis.
  • While the health benefits of eating broccoli are well known, it has been tricky to turn the specific anti-cancer agent into a tablet.
  • A company spokesman said: “It is amazingly unstable and has to be kept at minus 20 degrees. The new excitement is after all this academic work that has been done that somebody stabilised it in a form that can be turned into a medicine. I would have thought there is a reasonable chance that it will be quite successful.”

For more information:


One response

  1. Hello – I have come across your blog in a search for information regarding curcumin. It was in 2013 that you last discussed curcumin as a possible treatment. Did you pursue a course of curcumin, and if so, did it do anything to mitigate your cancer? Thank you for your time and your informative blog.

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