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Published on 4 June 2008

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Diabetes drug in breast cancer study

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A drug commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes could be effective in increasing pathologic response rates in diabetic women with early stage breast cancer, according to new research.

Metformin, the first-line drug commonly prescribed for type 2 diabetes sufferers, was shown to have a beneficial effect on women who took the drug during chemotherapy prior to having surgery.

The study, by researchers at the University of Texas M D Anderson Centre, paves the way for further research of the drug as a potential cancer therapy.

Metformin is an oral medication, usually given to diabetic patients who are obese or have insulin resistance. The study’s authors decided to conduct the research after large-scale research last year showed that patients with diabetes who took the drug had lower rates of cancer as well as better outcomes.

While the study’s findings are very positive, the researchers cautioned that further investigation with metformin is needed.

“We need to study the mechanism of the drug – perhaps it’s the decrease in insulin levels, or it may be that the drug has an antitumour effect that we need to look at in vivo,” said Ana M Gonzalez-Angulo, assistant professor in M D Anderson’s Department of Breast Medical Oncology.

“Our next step is to conduct a number correlative studies to try and further understand its mechanism.”

Copyright © PA Business 2008

M D Anderson Cancer Centre



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