A New Drug to Fight Breast Cancer

A drug developed in a lab at Duke University Medical Center appears to be just what the doctor ordered in the fight against breast cancer.

Scientists at Duke University Medical Center have discovered why the breast cancer drug tamoxifen stops working in women who use it for more than five years. And that discovery has, in turn, led to the discovery of a new drug that shows promise in solving that problem. Duke pharmacologist Donald McDonnell says when researchers made the original discovery that tamoxifen eventually starts encouraging cancer growth instead of stopping it, one of his graduate students in the lab started trying to find a way to make tamoxifen keep working. It took her two years, but she did find a new drug that keeps the tamoxifen from turning traitor.

"This was a very interesting result, and more interesting was the fact that one of the drugs was a drug that we had actually found in our own lab about three or four years ago. It was a drug that was developed for a completely different program, not for breast cancer at all. We had it lying around the lab."

McDonnell says the new drug has now been licensed to a pharmaceutical company, and will be undergoing testing before being made available to your local physician. The graduate student responsible is expected to receive her doctorate this year. I'm Tom Britt.