Carrying the faulty BRCA1 gene raises a woman’s risk of breast cancer from 12.5% to 58% which is why many opt for the surgical removal of their breasts in order to reduce their risk of getting breast cancer. However, scientists in Australia have just identified an alternative, less drastic way for these women to protect themselves from getting breast cancer. Their solution is to use the drug denosumab to stop their breast tissue turning into breast cancer.
This breakthrough comes after researchers at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne identified a protein, called RANK, as a key component in the transformation of healthy breast tissue into cancerous cells. What’s more, by testing tissue samples in the lab, they showed that blocking the RANK pathway and inhibiting production of the protein meant that they could switched off development of cancer cells.
The good news is that a drug already exists which blocks the RANK pathway. In order to get approval for the use of this drug, denosumab, for preventing breast cancer, a clinical trial is now underway. If the promising findings from the lab tests are confirmed, then women with BRCA1 will have a far less invasive option to help protect them from developing breast cancer.