Ask a Question

You visited our site and still have questions? Feel free to contact us

Consultation and guidance given not in the framework of service does not serve as a replacement for a physician’s examination or consultation, and is not considered a “medical diagnosis” or “medical opinion". In all cases of urgency, distress or emergency (physical and/or mental), seek medical care with a family doctor, closest emergency room, and/or ambulatory service.   

Contact Us

Share

Terms of use

Medix FTP Service (the "Service") is designed to provide you with an easy way to transfer files relevant to the management of your case to Medix Medical Services Europe Limited ("Medix", "we" and "us").

 

The following terms and conditions together with the Medix Information Security Policy (which may be found at http://medix- europe.com/Information_Security_Policy.aspx) (together, the "Terms of Service"), form the agreement between you and us in relation to your use of the Service. You should read the Terms of Service carefully before agreeing to them. If you do not understand any part of the Terms of Services, then please contact us at axa-ppp-intl@medix-europe.com for further information. You acknowledge and agree that by clicking on the "Upload" button, you are indicating that you accept the Terms of Services and agree to be bound by them.

 

Using the Service

 

In order to use the Service, you will be required to log in by submitting your member number which was provided to you by the Medix staff, your name and e-mail address. Once you have logged in, you will be able to upload files to the Service. We will download your files to our system and no copy will be retained on the server used to provide the Service. For detailed upload instructions, please click here.

 

Protection of your information

 

We take the safeguarding of your information very seriously. In order to prevent unauthorised access or disclosure of your information we have put in place appropriate physical, electronic and administrative procedures to safeguard and secure the files you upload to the Service. However, no method of transmission over the internet, or method of electronic data storage is 100% secure and while we have put in place appropriate protections, we cannot guarantee the security of information you upload to the Service.

 

Quality and availability of the Service

 

While we make reasonable efforts to provide the Service, it is provided "as is" with no representation, guarantee or warranty of any kind as to its availability, functionality, that it will meet your requirements or that it will be free of errors or viruses.

 

We will not be responsible for any damage to your computer system or the computer system of any third party resulting from your use of the Services where such damage is caused by circumstances which are beyond our reasonable control.

 

I agree
close
Contact Us
Contact Us
HomeMedical Information Innovative MedicineIn the pink: genetic advances aid breast cancer breakthroughs

In the pink: genetic advances aid breast cancer breakthroughs

By: Medix Team
In the pink: genetic advances aid breast cancer breakthroughs

Recent discoveries of additional gene variants and improvements in tumour profiling are transforming prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

Breast cancer treatments have come a long way since the ancient Egyptians used a mixture of cows’ brain and wasp dung to try and treat the disease. Yet, as is often the case, ancient wisdom may have had more going for it than first meets the eye.

 

A recent study by the University of Western Australia discovered that honeybee venom kills triple negative breast cancer cells, the hardest variant of all to treat. Researchers believe it’s because of a compound called melittin, which kills cancer cells by puncturing holes in them.

 

So far, it’s only worked in a lab setting. But it’s potentially good news for the millions of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer each year: two million globally in 2019 alone.

 

This October is World Breast Cancer month and the world certainly has plenty to cheer about given how dramatically death rates have fallen since the 1980s (by 40% in the US).  Survival rates top 85% in developed countries although there’s still a big divide with the developing world’s 40% level.

 

Accelerating progress has been largely thanks to one of this century’s most important developments: the sequencing of the human genome in 2002. Since then, there have been rapid advances in genetic testing.

 

This means that it’s not only easier to pinpoint who’s more susceptible to breast cancer, but also how tumours mutate.  It’s opening the door to far more tailored monitoring and treatments that could save millions more lives.

 

For instance, many of us are now aware of the role that faulty genes play thanks to high profile cases such as the American actress Angelina Jolie. She inherited a damaged copy of the BRCA1 gene, which made her more susceptible because that gene is less able to repair DNA damage.

 

She opted for a preventive mastectomy in 2013 after being told that she had an 87% chance of developing the disease. In recent years, there have been repeated calls to make genetic screening for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene more widely available.

 

However, recent research suggests that the picture is more complex. This August, the Harvard Medical School released a study based on 27,000 women, one fifth of whom had the two faulty genes. It uncovered a very wide margin of probability (13% to 76%) whether a woman would develop breast cancer once her full genetic make-up was taken into consideration.

 

Research by a University of Cambridge team backs this up. This January, they published details of 352 DNA errors that influence genes linked to breast cancer. The more genetic variants a woman has, the greater her likelihood of developing the disease.

 

Genetic testing of breast cancer tumours is also advancing. In particular, blood tests known as liquid biopsies have become sophisticated enough to pick up mutations. Their simplicity means that doctors can match more patients with new drugs that have come onto the market targeting specific mutations.

 

But, once again there’s still some way to go before this becomes a standard treatment. Time magazine recently reported that only a quarter of breast cancer patients have their tumours genetically tested.

 

Over the longer-term, artificial intelligence (AI) will play a key role too. Earlier this year, Google Health tested the mammogram examining capabilities of its deep-learning system against human doctors. It outperformed them by 9% in detecting the disease and 6% in picking up false positives.

 

For most women, the gold standard treatment is hormone therapy given that three-quarters of cases are either estrogen-receptor (ER) or progesterone-receptor (PR) positive (their cancer cells rely on these hormones to multiply). However, a proportion of patients eventually become resistant to drugs that block these receptors.

 

One solution is androgen receptor stimulators, which target cell proteins that make male hormones. This spring, the Journal of the Endocrine Society reported how one such drug, enobosarm, could potentially stop cancer growth in some ER positive cases.

 

Another breast cancer subset concerns HER2 proteins, which control cell division, growth and repair. Elevated levels help cancer to spread, but are more receptive to treatment. The standard drug is Herceptin, introduced to much fanfare in 1998. It’s a monoclonal antibody, which inhibits HER2 and stimulates the immune system.

 

New types of drugs known as antibody drug conjugates (ADCs) marry these kinds of tumour specific targeting antibody drugs with cytotoxic agents into one single drug that kill cancer cells without destroying healthy ones as standard chemotherapy does. Last December, the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) accelerated approval for an ADC called Enhertu. A phase II clinical trial had demonstrated a 60.3% response rate in women who’d already had a median of six breast cancer treatments. 

 

This September, London’s Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust also reported progress with another type of drug: cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) inhibitors. These prevent cancer cells from proliferating and the first one – palbociclib - was approved by the FDA in 2015. The hospital noted a 25% reduction in breast cancer recurrence after administering one called abemaciclib alongside standard hormone therapy.

 

There are also new treatments for triple-negative breast cancer. One ADC called Trodelvy is receiving a lot of attention. It targets the Trop-2 protein, which 90% of triple-negative breast cancers have.  The FDA gave it accelerated approval in April after a phase III trial reported a 52% reduction in the death rate among heavily pre-treated patients.

 

There have also been improvements in surgical options. University College London recently found that a single targeted dose of radiation (while a patient is still under anaesthesia immediately following tumour removal) was as effective as the multiple doses a subset of patients would normally have to endure for weeks afterwards.

 

But it’s not all about treatment. Prevention is just as important and lifestyle factors play a key role.  Obesity was first definitively linked to cancer in 2003.

 

The Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health has also made headway with two recent studies. One discovered how weight loss reduces risk (26% if it’s more than nine kilos).  The other highlights how high fibre diets help because they lower insulin levels and may reduce circulating estrogen.

 

It all adds up to a very positive picture. As the World Health Organisation says: breast cancer may be the world’s second most common cancer, but it’s now only the fifth most deadly. The odds are getting better by the year.

By continuing to use this site you consent to the use of cookies on your device as described in our cookie policy unless you have disabled them. You can change your cookie settings at any time but parts of our site will not function correctly without them.

ok