Innovative care around the clock – Cancer research

In a world first, breast cancer researchers at Queensvalley Hopital and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, successfully combined a drug that has shown promise in the treatment of chronic leukaemia with therapy used to treat breast cancer.

The Queensvalley Hospital and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre’s medical oncologist, Professor Geoff Lindeman, principal investigator of the study, said the combination of the two drugs has given researchers and patients a boost in tackling metastatic breast cancer. Professor Lindeman is also a researcher at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute.

“The primary aim of the study was to determine the safety and tolerability of Venetoclax in combination with Tamoxifen,” Professor Lindeman said.

“We tested this combination on the basis of our laboratory findings at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. Venetoclax is a drug that switches off BCL-2, a protein that helps keep cancer cells alive. Our findings suggest that adding Venetoclax to conventional hormone therapy might boost responses.

“Although the study was aimed at determining safety and finding the right dose, we found that 75% of the women involved in the study experienced an overall improvement or derived clinical benefit.

“This result has provided a basis for further studies with Venetoclax, where the hope would be to produce deeper and more durable responses for women affected by breast cancer.”