Metformin drug for diabetes

Please find below an article I found on the US “Isnpire” site about a drug for diabetes that seems to help in secondary breast cancer:

Metformin May Boost Complete Response in Diabetic Breast Cancer Patients

The diabetes drug metformin may help increase pathological complete response rates in diabetic patients with early-stage breast cancer who take the drug during preoperative chemotherapy, researchers at M. D. Anderson recently found.

The retrospective study is the first to consider the diabetes drug as a potential antitumor agent in breast cancer patients.

Metformin has been shown to act upon the adenosine monophosphate kinase pathway, a cellular energy sensor and a potentially important pathway for the development of cancer, explained Sao Jiralerspong, M.D., Ph.D., an instructor in Breast Medical Oncology.

“The other interesting aspect is that metformin works by decreasing the amount of insulin resistance in diabetic patients, and insulin seems to be a growth factor for cancer,” said Ana M. Gonzalez-Angulo, M.D., an assistant professor in Breast Medical Oncology who presented the findings with Dr. Jiralerspong at the 2008 American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting.

Dr. Jiralerspong, Dr. Gonzalez-Angulo, and other M. D. Anderson researchers identified early-stage breast cancer patients who received adjuvant chemotherapy before surgery and compared the outcomes of non-diabetic patients, diabetic patients taking metformin, and diabetic patients not taking metformin. The researchers found that the pathological complete response rate in the diabetic breast cancer patients who took metformin was 3 times higher than that in diabetic patients who did not take the drug and that metformin was an independent predictor of pathological complete response in diabetic patients.

The findings are preliminary, and further investigation of 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 antitumor effect that we need to look at in vivo,” said Dr. Gonzalez-Angulo. “Our next step is to conduct correlative studies to further understand its mechanism.” The researchers are designing a prospective trial of metformin therapy in preoperative patients.

Diabetes Drug Metformin May Reduce Risk of Breast Cancer
April 22, 2010, 09:04 am

Metformin, a medication commonly used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes, may reduce the risk of breast cancer when used for more than five years, according to a new study published by the American Diabetes Association. The study adds fuel to increasing evidence of metformin’s potential anti-cancer effects.

The study, led by Dr. Christoph R. Meier of Switzerland, followed more than 1,000 women in the U.K. using the drug to treat diabetes. Women using metformin for more than five years were at a 56 percent lower risk of breast cancer than those who never took the drug.

The study was relatively small, and while a direct cause and effect link between the drug and the reduced risk has not been established, researchers believe the connection may be related to metformin’s actions on a key metabolic enzyme known as AMP-activated protein kinase as well as its insulin-reducing activity.

The study comes just days after researchers at the American Association for Cancer Research presented findings suggesting metformin may lower the risk of lung cancer in smokers.

During its 15 years in use, metformin has become a popular drug for the treatment type 2 diabetes, a condition in which insulin does not properly carry sugar out of the bloodstream and into cells. Metformin helps regulate blood sugar levels and prevent complications in patients with the disease by reducing the amount of glucose absorbed in the stomach and produced in the liver while also enhancing the performance of insulin.

As the evidence for metformin’s anti-cancer effects rises, additional studies addressing the medication’s potential in cancer reduction are in the works.