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Br J Cancer. 2007 Aug 6;97(3):327-33. Epub 2007 Jul 17.

An alpha-fetoprotein-derived peptide reduces the uterine hyperplasia and increases the antitumour effect of tamoxifen.

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Center for Cardiovascular Sciences, Albany Medical College, Albany, NY 12208, USA.


Tamoxifen (Tam) is effective for the treatment and prevention of breast cancer. However, it has toxic drawbacks and has limited-duration utility because, over time, human tumours become refractory to Tam. Recently, a new nontoxic peptide, alpha-fetoprotein-derived peptide (AFPep) has been proposed for the treatment and prevention of breast cancer. The purpose of this paper is to determine whether combining AFPep with Tam would increase efficacy and reduce toxicity in experimental models of breast cancer. Low doses of AFPep and Tam were more effective in combination than either agent alone against breast cancer growth in cell culture, in tumour-xenografted mice, and in carcinogen-exposed rats. alpha-Fetoprotein-derived peptide interfered with Tam-induced uterine hyperplasia in immature mice, and showed no toxic effects. Unlike Tam, AFPep did not inhibit binding of oestradiol (E(2)) to oestrogen receptor (ER). Thus, these two agents utilise different mechanisms to interfere with ER functionality, yet work cooperatively to reduce breast cancer growth and alleviate Tam's troubling toxicity of uterine hyperplasia and appear to be a rational combination for the treatment of ER-positive breast cancer.

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