Evista, which was developed and is marketed by drug industry giant Eli Lilly and Co., has shown potential as a treatment for certain cancers, such as breast cancer and liver cancer. Evista was approved as an osteoporosis drug for women after menopause. A study performed by Oregon State University found that the drug had killed breast cancer and liver cancer cells that are “triple negative.” Between 15 and 20 percent of United States breast cancers are triple negative. While the research is promising, researchers note that clinical studies and further scientific scrutiny is still needed before Evista is used on a wide scale as a cancer drug.
Triple negative cancers don’t respond to certain medications, such as tamoxifen or trastuzumab, which makes a new potential treatment attractive to patients and doctors. Evista would work by stopping estrogen from binding to cell receptors, halting breast cancer growth.
Siva Kolluri, one of the researchers at Oregon State, believes that the study has made some important discoveries. “There are no targeted therapies for this class of breast cancer or liver cancer and the prognosis is pretty poor. Our findings are exciting for two reasons,” said Kolluri. “No. 1, our research revealed that we can target a specific protein, the AhR, to potentially develop new drugs for liver cancer and a subset of stubborn breast cancers. That's a major goal of our lab. No. 2, we discovered that raloxifene, a known drug, could potentially be repurposed to treat two distinct types of cancers.”
It is not yet known if there are will be clinical trials involving the Evista drug.