Development of breast cancer chemopreventive drugs.

Author(s): Kelloff GJ,  Boone CW,  Steele VE,  Crowell JA,  Lubet R,  Doody LA,  Greenwald P

Journal: J Cell Biochem Suppl

Date: 1993

Major Program(s) or Research Group(s): CADRG

PubMed ID: 8007699

PMC ID: not available

Abstract: Breast cancer is the second highest cause of cancer mortality (19%) estimated for U.S. women in 1993 and accounts for the highest proportion of new cancer cases (32%) in this population. The rate of documented cases increased during the early 1970s and again in 1980-87, probably due to early mammographic detection. Increased knowledge of personal risk may also have been a consideration; however, 60% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no known risk factor(s), such as family history, early age at menarche, late age at menopause, nulliparity, late age at first live birth, socioeconomic status, contraceptive use, postmenopausal estrogen replacement, or high fat intake. To prevent cancer, one strategy undertaken by the NCI is cancer chemoprevention, or intervention with chemical agents at the precancer stage to halt or slow the carcinogenic process. An objective of the NCI, DCPC is to develop promising cancer chemopreventive chemical agents as drugs for human use. Briefly, the process begins with identification of potential agents (e.g., pharmaceuticals, natural products, minor dietary constituents) from surveillance and analysis of the literature and from in vitro prescreen assays. Data on both efficacy (i.e., biological activities that either directly or indirectly indicate inhibition of carcinogenesis) and toxicity are gathered these sources. Various criteria are used to select and prioritize agents for entry into the NCI, DCPC preclinical testing program. The program begins with battery of in vitro efficacy screens using both animal and human cells to select agents for further testing; agents positive in these assays are considered for further testing. In the assay used for breast cancer chemoprevention, 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracene (DMBA)-induced mouse mammary organ culture, 64 chemicals have inhibited formation of hyperplastic alveolar-like nodules. A panel of organ-specific animal screening assays are then used to assess efficacy in vivo. Two assays relevant for breast cancer chemoprevention are inhibition of N-methyl-N-nitrosourea- and DMBA-induced rat mammary gland carcinogenesis. Of 89 agents tested, 29 have inhibited cancer incidence, multiplicity, or both in at least one of the mammary assays; 21 agents are currently on test. Highly promising agents are then placed in traditional preclinical toxicity tests performed in two species. Finally, the most promising and least toxic agents enter clinical trials. Phase I clinical trials are designed to investigate human dose-related safety and pharmacokinetics of the drug. Phase II trials are small scale, placebo-controlled studies designed to determine chemopreventive efficacy and optimal dosing regimens.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)