New hope in battle against drug-resistant breast cancer

Women with drug-resistant forms of breast cancer may have new hope in their fight against the disease, thanks to a new drug being developed in Queensland.

Pre-clinical trials of the experimental drug, MitoTAM, will begin in a matter of months at Griffith University, with funding from Cancer Council Queensland.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said planning for the start of pre-clinical trials was promising.

“This drug could revolutionise the treatment of some aggressive forms of breast cancer, improving survival outcomes and quality of life for women affected,” Ms Clift said.

“If pre-clinical trials prove successful, our hope is that Queensland patients will be registered in phase one clinical trials, offering women ground-breaking new hope of beating breast cancer.

“Cancer clinical trials are the single most important means of developing new and better treatments for cancer.

“Clinical trials improve health outcomes, improve cancer survival, and ultimately save money by improving the effectiveness of cancer treatment.”

Professor Jiri Neuzil from Griffith Health Institute said the drug could prove cost-effective in the treatment of drug-resistant breast cancer.

“Our research team has been able to modify tamoxifen to target mitochondria of patient’s cancer cells, to make a more efficient compound that is killing resistant breast cancer cells,” Prof Neuzil said.

“The drug, named MitoTAM, could potentially provide a cheaper alternative to drugs such as Herceptin.”

Tamoxifen is a common breast cancer treatment, but is ineffective in treating tumours with a high level of HER2, a protein found on the surface of breast cancer cells.

Around one in five breast cancer patients are HER2-positive.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in Queensland women – around 2900 new cases are diagnosed each year, and about 500 women die from the disease.

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available via 13 11 20 or

For more information or interviews, please contact:

Katie Clift, Executive Manager, Media and Spokesperson, Cancer Council Queensland
Ph: (07) 3634 5372 or 0409 001 171