new hope for us all

thought i would post this as i think its very interesting and hopefully helpful

A combination of two inexpensive existing drugs may offer a new way to treat breast cancer, according to UK and Finnish researchers.

The common chemotherapy drug and a brittle bone medicine almost completely stopped the growth of tumours in mice.

The Journal of the National Cancer Institute said the combination cost a twentieth of Herceptin, given to breast cancer patients by the NHS.

Specialists said the results of human trials now under way would be crucial.

The results of this study could change the way breast cancer patients are treated

Pamela Goldberg
Breast Cancer Campaign

In the UK, almost 46,000 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed each year.

Although modern treatments mean that cases caught sufficiently early, some via breast screening programmes, have an excellent chance of being successfully treated.

The study was a joint project between researchers at the University of Sheffield and the Kuopio University in Finland.

Its findings could offer an even more effective way to help some patients.

It used a dose of the drug doxorubicin, a common component of chemotherapy regimes, followed 24 hours later by zoledronic acid, currently given to osteoporosis patients.

In the mice, this stopped 99.99% of new cancer cell growth in tumours.

It is thought the first drug could be “priming” the tumour to be more sensitive to the cancer-cell killing qualities of the second drug.

Dr Ingunn Holen, who led the study, said that the study showed that the drug cocktail could “kill breast tumours”.

“These results show that a patient may benefit the most if these two drugs are given in this particular order.”

She said that the results of a human trial were expected later this year.

Speed advantage

If that proves successful, the drugs would not have to undergo a lengthy licensing process, simply have the change of use included in their current licence.

Breast Cancer Campaign, the charity which funded the study, said it was encouraged by the potential for the drug to be made swiftly available to women.

Its chief executive, Pamela Goldberg, said: "The results of this study could change the way breast cancer patients are treated.

“The good news is the that the two treatments are relatively inexpensive and already used in the clinic.”

A spokesman for Cancer Research UK said that a study in humans would be important.

"Establishing the most effective combinations of drug treatments and the timings in which they are given is an important area of clinical research.

“But the benefits of giving zoledronic acid after doxorubicin have only been shown here in mice and now need to be evaluated more fully in people with breast cancer.”

This is front page on The Mail today. Very interesting. But i wonder if it applies to bc cases. I am HER2. But just goes to show that new things are coming along all the time. In fact I was told this by a nurse last week that new treatments are in the pipeline.

Hi…Zoledronic acid is also called Zometa…lots of bc patients with bone mets are already receiving this treatment and it is suitable for her2 patients.

I also saw the Daily Mail article…(interestingly in the waiting room at the Marsden’s very odd private consultation suite in London…but thats another story)and have done a bit of googling.

This may potentially be a bit of exciting news…or it may not. The report is about some joint research conducted between Sheffield Uni and a Uni in Finland. The study has been done using mouse models, and it is always important to remember that mouse models are not necessarily certain models for humans. Many drugs which appera to work on induced cancer tumours in mice do not subsequently turn out to work in humans.

Nevertheless the results are promising. In 8 mice with induced breast cancer tumours which were given doxorubicin (which is the chemotherpay adriamycin…the A in AC) followed 24 hours later by zoledronic acid (zometa…a drug already used as Belinda says in metastatic bone disease) the tumours virtually all disappeared. Apparently they may be some human trials starting later this year. The trials will be for people with early breast cancer…the mice did not have bone disease.

Its good this stuff gets reported but I don’t think it warrants the overly glossy front page coverage in the Daily Mail. But fingers crossed for the human trials.


I may be mistaken but looks like a trial is already running that’s possibly related:

from cancerhelp org uk

A trial to see if zoledronic acid can help chemotherapy work better before surgery for breast cancer (ANZAC)

this trial is giving the drugs at the same time but doesn’t say what chemo agent they’re using so may not be doxorubicin.

  • and I am on a trial (AZURE) which is to assess whether zoledronic acid can help prevent the development of bone mets - which involved me in having a small dose after every chemo session (this was 4 years ago), plus quarterly/six monthly infusions over 5 years. The results of the trial will not appear for a while.


Thanks Vertangie - I have been poking round trying to locate this Sheffield trial since I heard about it on Radio4 this morning.
It’s phase 2 due to finish end of this year.
Looks promising.

Interesting info on this from the NHS site above.
They point out that the amounts given to the mice were much higher than comparative current human dosage - and for longer.

General response from the medical community (rather than Daily Mail hacks looking to fill up column inches during silly season) seems to be one of cautious optimism.


I too had already read there were trials to see if it prevented bone mets. Like a lot of things reported in the papers maybe not as new as they think.