London, Oct 10 : A commonly-used anti-psychotic drug could also be effective against triple-negative breast cancer, the most difficult form of the disease to treat, new research has found.
The findings showed that tumours in mice treated with the drug Pimozide were 65 per cent smaller than in untreated mice and the number of tumours reduced by up to 61 per cent.
The drug also helped to prevent the cancer from spreading: treated mice had up to 94 per cent fewer metastases in the lung than mice who didn't receive Pimozide.
"Triple-negative breast cancer has lower survival rates and increased risk of recurrence.
It is the only type of breast cancer for which only limited targeted treatments are available," said lead researcher Mohamed El-Tanani, Professor at the University of Bradford in the UK.
"Our research has shown that Pimozide could potentially fill this gap. And because this drug is already in clinical use, it could move quickly into clinical trials," El-Tanani added.
Triple-negative breast cancer is able to grow and spread more quickly than other forms of breast cancer.
Also, because its cancer cells lack hormone receptors, doctors cannot treat them with hormone therapy.
The only treatment for these types of cancer is chemotherapy.
For the study, published in Oncotarget, the team tested Pimozide in the laboratory on triple-negative breast cancer cells, non-small cell lung cancer cells and normal breast cells.
They found that at the highest dosage used, up to 90 per cent of the cancer cells died following treatment with the drug, compared with only five per cent of the normal cells.
The study also showed that Pimozide drug has the potential to treat the most common type of lung cancer.
Anti-psychotic drugs are known to have anti-cancer properties, with some, albeit inconclusive, studies showing a reduced incidence of cancer among people with schizophrenia.