Hope for the treatment of breast cancer by an antibiotic commonly used for acne. Leading the way to the possible use of antibiotics in the treatment of breast cancer is an Italian-British study, published in the international journal "Borders in oncology", performed in vitro at Manchester and in vivo in patients enrolled at the University of Pisa, which tested the anti-cancer efficacy of the tetracycline class of doxicillin antibiotic. In addition to killing bacteria, antibiotics also have a destructive effect on mitochondria, "power plants" of cells, of which neoplastic stem cells are very rich, responsible for the origin of the tumor and local recurrences, resistance to therapies and distant metastasis feared, explains a note from the University of Tuscany. The study was conducted by Antonio Giuseppe Naccarato (Department of Translation and New Technologies in Medicine and Surgery at the University of Pisa), Director of the Department of Pathological Anatomy 1 of the AIP-Pisa Hospital Company, Cristian Scatena, anatomopathologist and student of the School Doctoral in Clinical and Translation Sciences at the University of Pisa, along with researchers at the University of Salford in Manchester and in collaboration with the AOSP Senology Center and the Pisa Foundation for Onlus Science. The clinical study was performed on 15 women with early-stage breast cancer and only significantly reduced (approximately 40%) the number of neoplastic stem cells, after only 14 days of antibiotic treatment.
Researchers at the University of Salford, coordinated by Michael P. Lisanti, have long studied this effect on tumor models in vitro, recognizing that doxycycline was able to eradicate neoplastic stem cells in 8 different types of cancer, including breast cancer. . These studies have laid the foundation for the implementation of the first clinical study on the use of doxycycline in patients with early-stage breast cancer and candidates for surgical treatment. The trial was conducted at the AUE Senology Center headed by Manuela Roncella. In detail, doxycycline was administered to 9 patients (experimental arm), while 6 patients were introduced as a control arm: the first took antibiotic for 14 days prior to surgery at a standard daily dose of 200 mg; the others, on the other hand, were subjected directly to surgical therapy.
Several biological markers (of staminality, mitochondrial mass, cell proliferation, etc.) were investigated in both arms of the clinical trial, comparing their values before and after antibiotic therapy, respectively between the preoperative needle biopsy tumor tissue and the excised surgical component . Tumors of experimental arm patients after doxycycline treatment showed a significant decrease in the marker of stamina, between 17.65 and 66.67%. Similar data was also seen with a second stem cell biomarker. The results of this pilot study – supported by the University of Pisa – suggest that neoplastic tumor cells express selectively large amounts of proteins related to mitochondrial metabolism. This means that if it is possible to inhibit this metabolism, it is possible to eradicate neoplastic stem cells. Enrollment of new patients – concludes the note – will allow us to confirm these very promising results in the coming months.
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