Researchers have recently found that a new oral drug for breast cancer named, Palbociclib, has potential to combat other types of cancer as well.
Scientists from University of Pennsylvania said that Palbociclib targets the rapid division of tumor cells by inhibiting the activity of the enzymes CDK4 and CDK6, which propel cell division and increase in number in most cancers. It is the first CDK4/6 inhibitor to be approved for the treatment of breast cancer.
Lead author Amy S. Clark said that all living cells undergo cell division and Palbociclib has a unique capacity to halt the cell division process, therefore it has potentially broad applicability.
Clark added that pairing Palbociclib with other anti-cancer therapies such as endocrine therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy can create a powerful combinatorial effect with real promise for addressing a variety of cancers.
Researcher Peter J. O’Dwyer said that this drug has minor effects on normal cells other than neutrophils. In tumors, it can cause shrinkage, or more commonly, arrest of growth.
Also, combining Palbociclib with other anti-cancer agents is feasible, and early results in myeloma and some solid tumors have led to more definitive studies.
In both breast and other cancer trials, Palbociclib has been shown to be safe with once-daily dosing, and its main adverse effect is reversible neutropenia, an abnormally low count of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell that helps fight infections. The lower their neutrophil count, the more vulnerable patients are to infectious diseases. In such cases the drug is temporarily discontinued and reintroduced at a lower dose.
The research is published in the journal ‘JAMA Oncology.