Afatinib drug could inhibit growth of womb cancer, say Yale scientists

Research conducted by scientists from the Yale School of Medicine gynaecologic oncology division has demonstrated that the drug afatinib could inhibit the growth of womb cancer and shrink tumours.

The research published in the British Journal of Cancer (BJC) revealed that the drug kills the serous cells responsible for the cancer, and also causes the tumours to shrink.

Yale School of Medicine gynaecologic oncology division researcher and lead author Dr Carlton Schwab said: “Our research uses the vast amount of genetic information now available to find ways to shake the foundations of cancer and stop the disease progressing.

“We have shown similar results to early data of afatinib in non-small cell lung cancer, which ultimately led to clinical trials and a shift in the way some of these cancers are treated.”

The personalised medicine afatinib attacks faults in the HER2 gene, which are present at the heart of cancer cells, and this blocks the disease in its tracks. Currently, drugs that target HER2 are already used in the treatment of breast cancer.

The researchers compared uterine serous carcinoma cell lines with normal cells and increased levels of the HER2 protein.

Afatinib showed impact on cancer cell with this gene fault, and stop them from growing and killed, said researchers.

In addition, the drug shrank the size of uterine serous tumours, when tested in mice, noted researchers.

Uterine serous carcinoma is a type of womb cancer, which comes back even after treatment, and is returning in one in two patients, according to researchers.

The drug is also being tested in clinical trials for different cancers, such as bowel cancer and certain types of lung and breast cancers.