Osteoporosis drug could be used to treat aggressive form of breast cancer, researchers say
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IMAGE: Basal-like breast cancer cells form multiple metastatic tumors (arrowheads) in the lungs of control mice (left), but metastasis is suppressed by zoledronic acid treatment (right). view more 

Credit: Cao et al., 2018

Researchers in China have discovered that an enzyme called UGT8 drives the progression of basal-like breast cancer, an aggressive form of the disease that is largely untreatable. But the study, which will be published May 4 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, reveals that the widely used osteoporosis drug zoledronic acid inhibits UGT8 and prevents the spread of basal-like breast cancer in mice, suggesting that this drug could also be used to treat the disease in humans.

Basal-like breast cancer is a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer that typically affects younger, premenopausal women. It is hard to treat because the tumor cells are usually “triple negative,” lacking the estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, and HER2 protein that are the main therapeutic targets for other forms of breast cancer. As a result, the prognosis for patients with basal-like breast cancer is worse than any other breast cancer subtype.

“The highly aggressive nature and the absence of effective therapeutics for basal-like breast cancer make it a high priority

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