A molecule used in Amgen’s (NASDAQ:AMGN) new bone-disease drug denosumab that enables it to effectively treat osteoporosis may also be able to help prevent breast cancer, scientists said in a journal Wednesday.
Amgen’s RANKL-blocking antibody, used in denosumab, which was approved as a treatment for osteoporosis by the US Food and Drug Administration in June, may be able to prevent breast cancer tumors.
According to a study in Nature, two teams of scientists, led by Josef Penninger at the Austrian Academy of Science in Vienna, and William Dougall, a scientific director of oncology and hematology research at Amgen, found that the absence of the RANKL protein, known for its role in bone regeneration, led to fewer mammary tumors in mice given a cancer-inducing chemical as compared with normal mice.
The teams also found that RANKL causes mammary epithelial cells to divide, which helps maintain the stem cells that give rise to breast cancer tumors.
Both Penninger and Dougall agreed that blocking the protein could prevent breast cancers or block tumors in the earlier stages.
Amgen has yet to launch a clinical look into the matter, but is currently testing whether the drug prevents bone metastases in breast cancer and other tumors, according to the journal.