Study: New cancer drug offers alternative treatment for drug-resistant patients

Drug approved for breast, skin cancers

INDIANAPOLIS - Millions of women are resistant to Tamoxifen, one of the most commonly used drugs for breast cancer.

The drug can stop working for up to 40 percent of women, but a new study suggests that there could be an alternative treatment for Tamoxifen-resistant patients.

"There's lot of women who'll respond to Tamoxifen for several years and then become resistant," said Dr. Robert Manges, an oncologist with St. Vincent Health.
Manges is keeping his eye on a study in Ohio where researchers are testing a new drug called Vismodegib, a promising alternative treatment that is already on the market.

"Unfortunately, we don't have the materials yet to make it get rid of every last cell to truly cure," Manges said. "But if we can buy them years and years and years and keep that from growing, then that's good enough. You can pass away from old age."
In the lab, researchers looked at more than 100 human tumors and found the pathway that some cancer cells use to beat Tamoxifen, but they were able to block that pathway and kill cancer cells by using Vismodegib, which like Tamoxifen, is very easy to take and tolerate.

After going through radiation and chemotherapy for breast cancer, Jamie Albert appreciates the simplicity of Tamoxifen.

"Tamoxifen is super easy, yeah. I just take a pill every day, just have to make sure I remember and that's no big deal," said Albert. 

Manges said, best of all, the Food and Drug Administration approved Vismodegib last year for certain skin cancers, which means it could easily be studied in other diseases as well.

"This medicine has some side effects, but generally not as bad a chemo," Manges said. "I think it's very interesting... very exciting."

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