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VCU breast cancer tumor study yields promising results in phase one

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RICHMOND, Va. -- Doctors at VCU Massey Cancer Center are excited by their discoveries during phase one of testing, and are heading into phase two.

Researchers are testing two drugs to shrink breast cancer tumors. By themselves, the drugs didn't produce results, but together, the outcome has been promising.

"My initial thought was hey, if you combine this Sorafenib and combine it with Pemetrexed , we would see a synergy of killing,” said Dr. Paul Dent, Scientist at VCU Massey Cancer Center. “Stimulate the autophagy process---the eating process.”

Researchers hope that by using the drug combination of Sorafenib and Pemetrexed, the cancer cell would eat itself from the inside out.

After several lab experiments, phase one of the trial began in 2011. Massey doctors began to test the drug combination in patients who have gone through multiple rounds of chemotherapy.

"What was particularly gratifying, you were having an effect on the tumor but you weren't hurting the normal tissue,” said Dent.

The results of the first trial had a 61% response rate, something researchers and patients alike found promising -- especially a patient in the trial who had breast cancer.

"Two weeks after the first treatment, the tumor dropped off her chest,” said Dent.

Because the drug combo results are so promising, phase two of the trial has begun at Massey.

Doctors are focused on triple-negative breast cancer, which is traditionally the most difficult kind of breast cancer to treat.

Researchers are inviting people with metastatic or triple negative breast cancer to participate in the phase two trial. They can contact the clinical research nurse, Kathryn Strickler at 804-628-0960.

You can find more information about this study here.