The abortion drug RU-486 was used by scientists in mice that were bred with a breast cancer gene. The drug turned beneficial in warding off potential tumors.
This is thought to have been possible due to the abortion drug, known to inhibit the hormone, progesterone. This is indeed a teaser to researchers to evolve a safe version of the hormone blocker as an option for women carrying the breast cancer gene.
Cell biologist Eva Lee of the University of California, Irvine, who led the research said, 'All of us have to be cautious. But I do think if there is a better anti-progesterone available, hopefully there will be other options in the future for these women.'
This has certainly raised the curiosity of the scientists who could translate the success in the mouse model and reflect it on better drugs for humans. Once scientists are able to nail how BRCA1 actually causes tumors, it will enable the knowledge to tide over the bad effects of BRCA1.
As part of the research, Lee and colleagues nurtured mice whose mammary glands accommodated only the BRCA1 mutation. Scientists actually found that the bad gene, which caused breast cancers, was also responsible in the breast tissue portraying high levels of progesterone receptors. The final proof came from RU-486, also known as mifepristone. It triggers human abortions by inhibiting progesterone, a hormone that is extremely important to support pregnancy.
In the experiment, Lee implanted a pellet of RU -486 in some of the cancer-susceptible mice; the drug would gradually be released into their bodies, over a period of two months. The finding revealed that within 8 months of age, the mice that were not treated, developed tumors. But the mice which were given RU-486 had not developed tumors at the end of the year. But researchers left a warning, that prolonged use of RU-486 is not recommended. Other varieties of progesterone-blockers which are safe for prolonged use are in the process of being developed.