Diabetes and Immunotherapy Drug Combination Provides Aid to the Breast Cancer Fight


When it comes to cancer therapies and treatments, researchers have emphasized the importance of combining therapies – the process of blending two or more cancer-fighting drugs for fighting the heterogeneous nature of the cancer tumors.  Latest studies at the University of Helsinki have observed the effectiveness of the unlikely combination of drugs serving immensely helpful across a large number of breast cancer patients.   The researchers at the University of Helsinki observed that breast cancer cells could be attacked through a cocktail of drugs including that of the diabetes drug named “metformin” & “venetoclax” (a BCL-2 protein that serves as an inhibitor that helps in inducing apoptosis in cancer cells).

The team of researchers identified the drug metformin in its search for the drug that is capable of boosting the apoptosis-inducing nature of the drug venetoclax.  Venetoclax is an approved drug that is known for treating specific leukemias.  However, it has not yet been approved for the treatment of breast cancer.  In the recent findings of the given study, the results were published in the famous journal named “Nature Communications.”

MYC is a gene that is known for having the increased potential of initiating cancer.  In most of the breast cancer cases (over 40 percent), MYC tends to be overexpressed.  While MYC aims at programming the breast cancer cells to produce an increased amount of macromolecules, it is also known for creating a certain type of metabolic vulnerability by making the cells highly sensitive to a specific cell death type known as “apoptosis.”

Juha Klefstorm –Research Director and Senior Study Investigator at University of Helsinki’s medical facility, explains, “The given drug combo is known for exploiting certain metabolic vulnerabilities that MYC high levels tend to form in the tumor cells.  When Metformin & Venetoclax are given together, they have been observed to be successful in killing breast tumor cells and blocking tumor growth in breast cancer cells in the respective animal models.  In addition to this, the drug combination has also been successful in efficiently killing authentic breast cancer tissue that was donated by the patients of breast cancer.”

The researchers believe that this turns out to be a notable instance of a translational study that is fundamentally aimed at creating hope for patients with breast cancer.