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October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast cancer awareness month is a worldwide annual campaign that involves several organisations all around the world to help raise awareness about breast cancer through education on symptoms, early detection and treatment as well.

According to GLOBOCAN, breast cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer in women, accounting for 25.1% of all cancers and the second most common cancer overall. There are about 1.38 million new cases and more than 400.000 death cases each year, both in developed and developing countries. There were over 2 million new cases in 2018.

Even though the causes of breast cancer still remain unknown, early detection is key to adequate treatment. Even if detected late, however, curative treatment is no longer an option. First Health Pharmaceuticals’ cutting-edge research on DDX3 inhibitors leads the path to alternative treatment for late stage metastatic breast cancer.

DDX3 is overexpressed in various forms of cancer but its oncogenic role in breast cancer has been studied most extensively.

The treatment of breast cancer has dramatically benefited with the introduction of estrogen and progesterone receptors as diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers, but for triple negative and aggressive breast cancers the survival expectancy is still poor.

Treatment with DDX3 inhibitors would follow the approach of pre-screening the patient’s cancer cells for DDX3 overexpression, potentially offering an integration or alternative to available treatments.

Luckily mild to moderate forms of breast cancer respond well to available treatment options, but unfortunately metastatic breast cancers and triple negative types still have a very poor outcome. Even with optimal treatment the ten-year survival expectancy is no more than 10%. Triple negative breast cancer (ER, PR and HER2) is considered especially aggressive and difficult to treat. Also, the cancer is more likely to spread and recur.

Taking this into consideration, First Health Pharmaceuticals’ DDX3 Inhibitors were tested on metastatic breast cancer cell lines expressing DDX3, showing relevant activity in all compounds and very positive results in one specific compound. The possibilities for DDX3 based treatment in triple negative breast cancer is also under investigation.

Preliminary data in vivo showed no toxicity and a good tissues distribution. The development of our antitumor pipeline includes further improvement of the antitumor activity and the optimisation of the delivery and distribution in the body of the lead compounds.