According to the National Cancer Institute, around twelve percent of all women in the United States will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. However, around 65% of the women who have a mutation in the breast cancer gene BRCA1 will develop breast cancer, which is considered high risk. These women have very few options when it comes to minimizing these risks, and most opt for preventative mastectomies. Scientists may have just discovered a nonsurgical way for women at high risk to minimize their chances of developing breast cancer. Ask these important questions to learn more about this drug that may block breast cancer.

What is the drug that may block breast cancer?

The drug is called denosumab, which is a medication that is most commonly prescribed for the treatment of osteoporosis. 

Where was the research on denosumab completed?

The research into using this drug to treat those at high-risk of breast cancer were completed at Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Australia.

What does the research show about denosumab’s effectiveness?

The most current research shows that denosumab stops certain breast tissue cells with the mutation from changing into cancerous tumors. 

What cells are most likely transform into breast cancer?

In the study, researchers analyzed samples of breast tissue with the BRCA1 genetic mutations. A molecule called RANK was present and most likely to transform into cancer. 

Were studies using denosumab done on animals or women?

Studies were completed on both lab animals as well as women in a pilot study. Women with the BRCA1 mutation were treated with the drug and experienced promising results.

Do more tests and clinical trials need to be completed?

Researchers need to run more tests and clinical trials before denosumab can be considered as a treatment for breast cancer in addition to osteoporosis.

What other institutions will be conducting the clinical trials?

Researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center plan to conduct more clinical trials, examining the molecular changes in tissue when denosumab is used as a treatment option.

How long would approval take for use of this drug in breast cancer treatment?

Researchers who discovered the effectiveness of denosumab hope to collaborate on a large international clinical trial within the next two years, results of which may not be available for up to ten years.