BRUSSELS, Belgium — In a world-first, scientists have found a drug that can halt the recurrence and spread of breast cancer. The treatment, called the MitoQ molecule, stopped cancer’s spread in 80 percent of cases and recurrence in 75 percent of patients. Researchers in Belgium are calling the discovery a “giant step” in beating the disease.
After originally testing mice, scientists say they’ve completed the first clinical phase involving healthy men and women. The drug only caused some nausea, and in the worst cases, vomiting. The next step is to test its efficacy in cancer patients.
Researchers were intent to find something to help triple-negative breast cancer patients, which account for around one in 10 breast cancers — or 225,000 cases worldwide. Around half of these patients will develop local recurrences or spread leading to secondary malignant growths, regardless of the treatment they receive.
Patients suffering from pervasive triple-negative breast cancer have only a one in 10 chance of beating the disease. Researchers treated mice engineered to develop human breast cancer with a combination of typical treatments: surgery and chemotherapy.
Then, scientists from the Université catholique de Louvain supplemented that treatment with the drug, MitoQ.
“We expected to be able to block the metastases. But preventing the recurrence of the cancer was totally unexpected. Getting this type of result is a huge motivation for us to carry on.” says Dr. Pierre Sonveaux in a university release.
What is MitoQ?
Researchers add that this breakthrough this is a giant step forward in cancer research, since the three main causes of cancer death are disease recurrences, the spread of cancer to other parts of the body, and a tumor’s resistance to treatment. The team says there is currently no other molecule capable of acting like MitoQ.
Mitoquinone mesylate (MitoQ) is a synthetic molecule created in New Zealand in the late 1990s. It is an antioxidant and is currently on the market as a dietary supplement promoting energy and vitality.
The findings appear in the journal Cancers.
South West News Service writer Joe Morgan contributed to this report.