Mayo Clinic researchers have discovered that a chemical known as endoxifen appears to be the primary metabolite responsible for the effectiveness of tamoxifen in treating breast cancer, and that it works against cancer in an entirely unexpected way.
Their study, presented at the 31st annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, finds that, in contrast to the other tamoxifen metabolites, endoxifen degrades the estrogen receptor, and thereby inhibits the growth of breast cancer cells. These new findings are believed to be the most definite laboratory analysis yet on how tamoxifen and its two main metabolites — endoxifen and 4HT (4-hydroxytamoxifen) — act against breast cancer.
“Tens of thousands of women in this country are prescribed tamoxifen for either treatment or prevention of breast cancer, and while it has shown remarkable success, it does not work for a substantial number of patients,” says the study’s lead investigator, John Hawse, Ph.D. “These findings increase our understanding of tamoxifen and, we hope, could pave the way for improved therapies.”
Tamoxifen is designed to treat estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer (70-80 percent of all breast cancer) because this receptor fuels the cancer’s growth. But tamoxifen is a “pro-drug,” which means that it is relatively inactive until converted into active “metabolites” — the 4HT and endoxifen chemicals that actually perform the work of the drug.
To read more on the study, click here.
Below is a link to an edited youtube video with Dr. Spelsberg talking about the study.