Professor, Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine
Queen's University, Kingston
National Cancer Institute Canada Clinical Trials Group
Dr. Lois Shepherd of the NCIC Clinical Trials Group in Ontario, Canada, and Dr. Pamela Goodwin have teamed up to conduct a randomized phase III trial of the effect of the anti-diabetes drug, metformin, on recurrence and survival in early stage breast cancer. Metformin is a very old drug which is used in the treatment of adult-onset diabetes. Over the last decade there has been a growing body of evidence to suggest that high levels of insulin resulting from diabetes may play a role in the development and recurrence of many cancers including breast cancer. Metformin acts to inhibit the insulin pathway and its potential use in preventing the recurrence of early stage breast cancer is being explored in the MA.32 study. Early results from the study, which is being conducted across North America, the United Kingdom and Switzerland, showed that metformin had the expected effect on reducing body mass index, weight, glucose and insulin levels. A total of 3649 women participated in the trial of which 2259 were from the United States, 1203 were from Canada and 187 from the UK and Switzerland. Follow-up studies are continuing to determine its effectiveness in preventing breast cancer recurrence with final analysis anticipated in late 2016.
Dr. Lois Shepherd is a Professor in the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine at Queen's University. She completed her medical school training at McGill and spent three years in England where her interest in hematology developed. She completed her training as a hematopathologist at the University of Ottawa and moved to Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario in 1987. Dr. Shepherd is currently the Director of the Transfusion Medicine Service and Immunology at Kingston General Hospital. Since 1989, Dr. Shepherd has worked with the Clinical Trials Group of the National Cancer Institute of Canada (NCIC CTG) as a Senior Investigator. Her focus has been in hematology and breast cancer as well as the development of the National Tumor/Tissue/Data Repository associated with the NCIC Clinical Trials Group, where she is the Operational Director of this resource.