Serendipity excite Researchers of Breast Cancer

Published Date : Oct 28, 2013

A drug which was initially created in Newcastle to terminate the parasites and living organisms in meat and livestock is now proving as an effective weapon against breast cancer in humans. 


Since four years, Dr Jennette Sakoff, a lab researcher at Calvery Mater Hospital has worked on this project under the intention that it would aid agriculture. She never imagined that the drug would pose a threat of becoming a victim killer of breast cancer cells, whereby, completely neglecting the healthy breast tissue. Dr Sakoff said it completely failed at killing the parasites. They were never designed to target cancer. She and her team often screen plenty of molecules at the research lab and that is when they noticed it. It is definitely a discovery by accident, she adds.


Due to immense research in Australia today, the five-year survival rate figure for breast cancer has nearly reached 89 percent. Nonetheless, according to the Australian Institute of Health, Welfare and Cancer, on an average, seven women in the country have died because of the disease. 


Dr Sakoff, who is also a part of the Hunter Medical Research Institute, said that the drug was a new hope for those people who were living with advanced or metastatic breast cancer. Metastatic is a term used for cancer reappearing elsewhere in the body. This facet may now actually propose an additional cure, especially for the advanced tumors that have spread across many humans. It could also work as an extra tool in the box helping those who are resistant to treatment options. 

Dr Sakoff also said that, the drug could have fewer side effects because the relative compounds were quite selective in as to what they destroyed. Selectiveness is a good thing, and there is certainly something unique and selective about breast cancer.


In the course of her drug discovery, she and her team discovered new molecules that were effective in killing the breast cancer cell lines, but the same molecules did little to nothing when it came to treating tumor types. This phase of research is still under observation as her team is trying to work out different ways to how the molecules do it In the early stages of investigation, study and research was currently up to the level of animal testing wherein it had been tolerated well. It still continues to be in its very early stages of study and research. However, if everything works out according to the plan, this research has the potential to achieve high significance too.


The effort towards stopping breast cancer from spreading is becoming achievable and possible due to several other researchers at the HMRI. 


Dr Nikki Verrills, from the University of Newcastle, is investigating the study of how a particular gene is switched off in breast cancer. She is in the process of finding out whether the gene switching off is primary or secondary to breast cancer, and/or whether turning the gene back on would be advantageous for those who have metastatic breast cancer. The normal function of the gene is to end the cells from dividing continuously. So, it seems to end the movement of the cells from one point or place to another, she added.