Scientists at Dalhousie University believe they may have found a drug combination that shuts down aggressive breast cancer cells. The project is in its early stages, but researchers say they are confident clinical trials will begin in the near future.

“We set off on a series of experiments and we came up with a very nice combination of drugs,” says Dr. Paola Marignani.

News that researchers may have found a way to stop the growth of breast cancer cells is promising to breast cancer survivor Julie Michaud.

“That just gives me more hope that there’s going to be more cancer-specific treatment, which I think in the end will help save a lot more lives,” says Michaud.

“I took the same chemo that people were taking for the last 20 years, so it’s good to hear that they’re finally making some progress.”

The combination of drugs has been found to decrease the size or completely erase HER2 positive tumours – aggressive cells that represent 15 to 30 per cent of all breast cancers.

“What we’re proposing is additional, two new drugs, that come in from very different angles to attack the tumour,” says Marignani.

She says the drugs target the cancer from two sides as they go after the tumour’s protein and energy, reducing growth and virtually starving the cells.

“It’s very encouraging. We’re cautiously optimistic that, one day, these drugs will be in use in the clinic,” she says. “My goal is ultimately to improve human health.”

Marignani says several steps need to be taken before clinical trials can begin on breast cancer patients, but she’s confident trials could begin as early as next year.

She also says the new drug combination may even work against other forms of cancer.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Suzette Belliveau