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Leukaemia pill could treat ovarian cancer

Press AssociationPress Association 30/06/2016

A pill already used to treat leukaemia may also be effective against a specific type of ovarian cancer, research suggests.

The discovery points the way to a new personalised therapy for ovarian clear cell carcinoma, which accounts for more than five per cent of cases of the disease in the UK.

Scientists found that ovarian cancer cells in mice stopped growing after treatment with the drug dasatinib.

Because the drug is already approved and known to be safe, it could be fast-tracked into clinics.

Dasatinib appears to target a faulty gene found in some ovarian cancer tumours, the research showed.

"All ovarian cancers are difficult to treat, and that's particularly the case for this type, which is often resistant to chemotherapy," lead researcher Dr Chris Lord, who heads London's Gene Function Team at the Institute of Cancer Research, said.

"In our study, we found a drug that could be effective in a group of patients who carry mutations to a particular gene in their tumours.

"The next step will be to test whether this drug is effective in ovarian cancer patients. If it is, we'll be able to get this drug to patients relatively fast as it's already approved for other types of cancer and we know it's safe."

About half of all patients diagnosed with ovarian clear cell carcinoma have the targeted mutation.

Scientists still do not know exactly how the defective gene is linked to cancer.

The study, published in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, tested 68 different drugs on cancer cells with and without the mutation.

Laboratory screening showed dasatinib stopped cancer cells with the faulty gene growing, and further tests on mice confirmed that the drug could halt the growth of ovarian tumours.

The drug is also being investigated as a potential therapy for other cancers, including advanced prostate cancer.

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