Canadian scientists claim to have found a treatment, which could block the action of an enzyme that fuels the growth of breast cancer.
The enzyme PTP1B appears to fuel tumor growth and drugs that block this enzyme may be useful in treating the disease. About 40 percent of human breast cancers have been shown to have excessively high levels of this enzyme.
Michel Tremblay and colleagues at McGill University in Montreal found that deleting PTP1B in mice led to a significant delay in the onset of breast tumors. It also prevented the secondary development of tumors in the lungs, reported the online edition BBC News.
Over-expression of PTP1B has already been implicated in the development of diabetes and obesity, where it shuts down insulin receptors, leading a number of drug companies to develop compounds to block its action.
The animals were treated for just two weeks, but the beneficial effects were seen for two months.
Tremblay said: "This study is very exciting for cancer patients. However, it won't cure cancer alone. It's another tool to tackle cancers.