Researchers may have found a way to stop breast cancer cells from growing, according to results of a preliminary study published in the Proceedings for the 2003 Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research. Researchers are looking at the statin family of cholesterol-lowering drugs as a potential breast cancer treatment. Earlier studies by Khandan Keyomarsi, PhD, at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center examined breast cancer cells in the laboratory. Once the researchers added the statin drug lovastatin, the cancer cells stopped growing.
To make sure that it was not a fluke, Ekem Efuet, PhD, one of Keyomarsi?s postdoctoral students, took a closer look. A reason cancer cells grow rapidly is that they lack the biochemical brakes that slow cell growth. Dr. Efuet found that lovastatin?and likely other statins?lets these growth brakes build up inside cancer cells?making them a potentially beneficial breast cancer treatment in the future. Although the laboratories are working to develop new drugs to make cancer cells accumulate growth brakes, the current finding that statins can have the same effect could shorten the process. If the research pans out, it might make cholesterol-lowering drugs more readily available for treating breast cancer.