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Marine sponge drug extends breast cancer survival

CHICAGO (AFP) – – A new agent derived from a marine sponge can extend the survival rates of women with locally recurrent or metastatic breast cancer who already received extensive standard therapy, a new study unveiled Sunday found.

The synthetic component called eribulin mesylate mimics a component found naturally in sponges and can prevent cell division, which causes cells to self-destruct, said study authors who presented their findings at the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology conference in Chicago.

In a randomized international trial, British researchers assessed the survival rates of 762 patients, treated either with eribulin or another therapy, almost always chemotherapy, and found the new therapy extended median overall survival by about 2.5 months.

“Until now, there hasn’t been a standard treatment for women with such advanced breast cancer. For those who have already received all of the recognized treatments, these are promising results,” said lead study author Christopher Twelves.

“These findings may establish eribulin as a new, effective option for women with heavily pre-treated metastatic breast cancer,” said Twelves, head of the Clinical Cancer Research Groups at the Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine in Britain.

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