Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

GUMC Breast Cancer Study Offers Hope for Treatment

Robert Clarke, interim director of the Biomedical Graduate Research Organization of the Georgetown University Medical Center, along with five other researchers, published the results of a new study on breast cancer treatment in a February article featured in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal.

Clarke also serves as co-director of the Breast Cancer Program at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, which is a part of both the Medical Center and Georgetown University Hospital.

According to a Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center press release, the research shows that combining tamoxifen, the world’s most prescribed breast cancer treatment option, with a derivative of the feverfew plant – a common medicinal herb – may be useful in preventing resistance to the tamoxifen.

The 16-page report indicates that 70 percent of newly diagnosed breast cancers are estrogen receptor positive breast cancers, despite the fact that anti-estrogen therapy has been the leading breast cancer treatment for over 30 years. Fifty percent of these cases either do not respond to or are resistant to tamoxifen, making resistance to the drug of critical importance.

“Although tamoxifen reduces the risk of dying from breast cancer, not everyone is cured, obviously. The problem is that some tumors respond well and that some don’t. Some might initially start being affected by the treatment and then reverse, so this is [what is] currently being looked at,” Clarke said in a phone interview.

Clarke and other members of the research team have been conducting research on the subject for years. With publication of the results, testing can begin soon.

“For this particular study, we next want to see if it will work with animal models and then continue work with an exploratory trial to see if could be used against humans. The animals study could probably begin fairly soon, but the humans studies always take a while before they can begin,” Clarke said.

Parthenolide, the chemical tested in combination with tamoxifen, is a derivative of the feverfew plant currently being studied as a possible treatment for various forms of leukemia. Clarke explained that the feverfew herb itself has been used as a natural medicine for migraines and arthritis. Tamoxifen was first introduced as a treatment for breast cancer by renowned breast cancer scientist V. Craig Jordan, who currently serves as the scientific director of the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The study was funded by grants from the U.S. Department of Defense, the Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, and the National Institutes of Health.”

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