Experimental Drug Shows Positive Results Against Breast Cancer

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    Palbociclib targets a protein that causes cancer cells to spread

    (NECN/NBC: Bruce Hensel) - Janet Klein has estrogen receptor positive breast cancer, like 60 per cent of women who get breast cancer.

    After she got a double mastectomy, she thought her fight was over.

    "I thought I was completely done, never have to think about it again."

    Then, last year, she found out, the cancer was back.

    And, this time, it had spread to her hip bone.

    "That was really shocking. All of a sudden I didn't know what was going to be on the table for me at that point."

    That's when she found out an experimental breast cancer drug that was being tested at UCLA.

    The new compound is called Palbociclib, and it targets a protein called CDK46 that causes cancer cells to spread.

    "We're essentially putting the breaks on cell proliferation and causing these tumor cells to stop growing," said researcher Dr. Richard Fink.

    In initial tests, Palbociclib helped to stop cancer growth in its tracks, from 7 1/2 months without the drug, to 26 months with the drug.

    "And the results were really groundbreaking. We saw a dramatic improvement in the time it took for these women's breast cancers to progress. Unlike chemotherapy drugs, which are just generic poisons to cells. This drug is very well tolerated, it does not cause hair loss, it does not cause nausea and vomiting."

    The FDA was so impressed with these results, that it designated Palbociclib a breakthrough drug, which is meant to speed up the approval process so the drug can be available to the public.

    Janet got the drug more than three years ago; it has made a life changing difference for her.

    Right now, she's cancer free.

    "It’s gone, there's no evidence of it in the scans. I think I'm one of the luckiest people on the planet."