Kidney and breast cancers
Romidepsin and decitabine to treat kidney and breast cancers. Wikimedia Commons

Two drugs, romidepsin and decitabine, could be used to treat breast and kidney cancers, Mayo Clinic researchers have found. The drugs activate a tumor suppressor gene that makes the tumor cells to stop growing eventually leading to the death of the cells.

Romidepsin and decitabine are already approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat blood cancer but now the researchers have found that the drug can also cure breast and kidney cancers.

During the study, researchers used romidepsin and decitabine on lab-grown cancer cells. They found that individually, each drug did not induce any form of cell death but, together, they activated the Secreted Frizzled Related Protein One (sFRP1) that killed all of the different cell lines of kidney and triple negative breast cancer cells.

Previously, researchers had found that sFRP1 was silenced in certain cancers. Now, they have found the two drugs activate the gene and the gene stops the tumor cells from growing.

"We now have the basis for a clinical trial aimed at providing effective therapy for two drug-resistant cancers and perhaps many more tumor types in the future," said John Copland, molecular biologist at Mayo Clinic.

In the near future sFRP1 gene could be used in disabling colon, ovarian, lung, liver and other tumor cells, just like it disabled breast and kidney cancer cells, claims Copland .

Every year, nearly 50,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK and nearly 7,400 people are affected by kidney cancer. Despite such high incidence, therapy to treat both forms of cancer, especially when they are advanced, is very limited.

"But now, not only do we have a very promising lead on future therapy, but if this combination treatment works as we hope it does, we will have a biomarker to be able to test which patients might benefit the most. In other words, a biopsy test could identify patients whose tumors had lost sFRP1 function," said Edith Perez, deputy director at the Mayo Clinic Cancer Centre.

"This type of interdisciplinary preclinical research effort is important, not only because of the value of the science, but also because the drugs are already in the clinic and that will facilitate translational efforts and hopefully confirm the preclinical findings in patients with advanced malignancies," said Michael Menefee, MD, researcher at the Mayo Clinic Cancer Centre.