Almost a quarter of a million people were diagnosed with breast cancer this year, while another 3 million are living with the disease. Although the cure rate for breast cancer is high -- it has an 89 percent 5-year survival rate -- a large number of patients have a recurrence of their cancer. Breast Cancer Awareness Month highlights the continuing research on this type of cancer, the second most common cancer in the United States.
Julian Spallholz, a professor of nutritional sciences at Texas Tech University, has studied the effects of selenium on several types of cancer. His research on attaching selenium to the leading clinical chemotherapeutic monoclonal antibody for a type of breast cancer shows it can more effectively kill the cancer cells, he reports.
About 20 percent of breast cancer patients have overexpressed growth receptors, known as Her2+ receptors, on the cancer cells, which cause uncontrolled tumor growth. The clinical treatment options on the market today focus on those receptors.
This treatment consists of monoclonal antibodies, which scientists have developed to target cancer cells such as Her2+. This has proven to be effective, but a patient's cancer can often develop resistance to the drug.
Selenium, when attached to a monoclonal antibody presently used to treat breast cancer, has shown greater success in destroying cancer cells in a patient who has developed resistance to the chemotherapy.
"The selenium research conducted by students and colleagues over the years and with the data from this commercial monoclonal antibody leads one to the longer term view that the redox technology produced by selenium and employed here is applicable to many medical applications. Additional applications include other clinical cancer monoclonal antibodies, targeting polypeptides, aptamers and possibly antibiotics. The attached selenium chemistry has the effect of changing the pharmacologic profile of a targeting drug," Spalholz notes.
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