Localized Therapy

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Science  20 Jan 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5759, pp. 307
DOI: 10.1126/science.311.5759.307c

The past two decades have brought remarkable progress in the development of more effective chemotherapeutic drugs for breast cancer. Unfortunately, many of these drugs produce undesirable side effects, largely because they are delivered systemically—to vulnerable normal tissue as well as to the intended tumor target. The mammary gland provides an alternative route for tumor access: the mammary ductal networks that terminate at the nipple. Indeed, the vast majority of human breast cancers arise in the epithelial lining of these ducts.

Studying two rodent models, Murata et al. investigated whether mammary tumors could be prevented and treated by injection of chemotherapeutic drugs directly into the mammary ducts, a strategy that in principle would maximize drug concentrations around the premalignant and malignant cells, while sparing normal tissue. Intraductal delivery of derivatives of tamoxifen or doxorubicin—two of the most commonly used drugs for human breast cancer—was found to be equal or superior to intravenous delivery in suppressing tumor growth, and there was no evidence of systemic toxicity. Because the mammary ducts of rodents and humans are anatomically distinct, it is unclear whether a similar drug delivery protocol would be effective clinically, but these promising results should stimulate further work in this direction. — PAK

Cancer Res. 66, in press (2006).

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