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      Study of New Therapeutic Strategies to Combat Breast Cancer Using Drug Combinations

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          Cancer is a disease that affects and kills millions of people worldwide. Breast cancer, especially, has a high incidence and mortality, and is challenging to treat. Due to its high impact on the health sector, oncological therapy is the subject of an intense and very expensive research. To improve this therapy and reduce its costs, strategies such as drug repurposing and drug combinations have been extensively studied. Drug repurposing means giving new usefulness to drugs which are approved for the therapy of various diseases, but, in this case, are not approved for cancer therapy. On the other hand, the purpose of combining drugs is that the response that is obtained is more advantageous than the response obtained by the single drugs. Using drugs with potential to be repurposed, combined with 5-fluorouracil, the aim of this project was to investigate whether this combination led to therapeutic benefits, comparing with the isolated drugs. We started with a screening of the most promising drugs, with verapamil and itraconazole being chosen. Several cellular viability studies, cell death and proliferation studies, mainly in MCF-7 cells (Michigan Cancer Foundation-7, human breast adenocarcinoma cells) were performed. Studies were also carried out to understand the effect of the drugs at the level of possible therapeutic resistance, evaluating the epithelial-mesenchymal transition. Combining all the results, the conclusion is that the combination of verapamil and itraconazole with 5-fluorouracil had benefits, mainly by decreasing cell viability and proliferation. Furthermore, the combination of itraconazole and 5-fluorouracil seemed to be the most effective, being an interesting focus in future studies.

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          5-fluorouracil (5-FU) is widely used in the treatment of cancer. Over the past 20 years, increased understanding of the mechanism of action of 5-FU has led to the development of strategies that increase its anticancer activity. Despite these advances, drug resistance remains a significant limitation to the clinical use of 5-FU. Emerging technologies, such as DNA microarray profiling, have the potential to identify novel genes that are involved in mediating resistance to 5-FU. Such target genes might prove to be therapeutically valuable as new targets for chemotherapy, or as predictive biomarkers of response to 5-FU-based chemotherapy.
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            Genetic analyses have shaped much of our understanding of cancer. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that cancer cells display features of normal tissue organization, where cancer stem cells (CSCs) can drive tumor growth. Although often considered as mutually exclusive models to describe tumor heterogeneity, we propose that the genetic and CSC models of cancer can be harmonized by considering the role of genetic diversity and nongenetic influences in contributing to tumor heterogeneity. We offer an approach to integrating CSCs and cancer genetic data that will guide the field in interpreting past observations and designing future studies. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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              Epithelial-mesenchymal transition in development and cancer: role of phosphatidylinositol 3' kinase/AKT pathways.

              Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is an important process during development by which epithelial cells acquire mesenchymal, fibroblast-like properties and show reduced intercellular adhesion and increased motility. Accumulating evidence points to a critical role of EMT-like events during tumor progression and malignant transformation, endowing the incipient cancer cell with invasive and metastatic properties. Several oncogenic pathways (peptide growth factors, Src, Ras, Ets, integrin, Wnt/beta-catenin and Notch) induce EMT and a critical molecular event is the downregulation of the cell adhesion molecule E-cadherin. Recently, activation of the phosphatidylinositol 3' kinase (PI3K)/AKT axis is emerging as a central feature of EMT. In this review, we discuss the role of PI3K/AKT pathways in EMT during development and cancer with a focus on E-cadherin regulation. Interactions between PI3K/AKT and other EMT-inducing pathways are presented, along with a discussion of the therapeutic implications of modulating EMT in order to achieve cancer control.

                Author and article information

                14 December 2018
                December 2018
                : 8
                : 4
                [1 ]Laboratory of Pharmacology, Department of Drug Sciences, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Porto, Rua de Jorge Viterbo Ferreira 228, 4050-313 Porto, Portugal; up201607999@ (A.C.); danys@ (D.S.)
                [2 ]Department of Molecular Pathology and Immunology, Institute of Biomedical Sciences Abel Salazar (ICBAS), University of Porto, Rua de Jorge Viterbo Ferreira 228, 4050-313 Porto, Portugal; fgartner@
                [3 ]i3S, Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde, University of Porto, Rua Alfredo Allen 208, 4200-135 Porto, Portugal; alexandra.correia@ (A.C.); vilanova@ (M.V.)
                [4 ]Department of Imuno-Physiology and Pharmacology, Institute of Biomedical Sciences Abel Salazar (ICBAS), University of Porto, Rua de Jorge Viterbo Ferreira 228, 4050-313 Porto, Portugal
                [5 ]Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IBMC) of the University of Porto, Rua Alfredo Allen 208, 4200-135 Porto, Portugal
                [6 ]Institute of Molecular Pathology and Immunology of the University of Porto (IPATIMUP), Rua Júlio Amaral de Carvalho 45, 4200-135 Porto, Portugal
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence: nuno.vale@ ; Tel.: +351-220-428-606
                © 2018 by the authors.

                Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (



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