It was set to be the largest breast cancer trial of its kind. Medical oncologist, clinician scientist and former Director of the Marvelle Koffler Breast Centre, Dr. Pamela Goodwin had nearly everything she needed — interested patients, millions in funding, support from the Canadian Cancer Trials Group — except for the drug at the centre of her trial.

Metformin, a common and relatively inexpensive diabetes drug, was theorized to hold enormous promise in treating breast cancer. But without access to the medication, Dr. Goodwin and her trial were stuck.

“Despite securing $40 million in funding needed for the trial, we struggled to find a pharmaceutical company that would provide the generic version of metformin and, more importantly, placebo for use in the study,” she said.

Metformin belongs to a class of drugs called biguanides, which are used to treat high blood sugar or diabetes. It was theorized that the drug might slow breast cancer growth by improving patient metabolism, notably insulin levels, leading to reduced growth of cancer cells, or that it might impact cancer cells directly.

Read more about this landmark breast cancer trial and Dr. Goodwin’s findings in our 2021-2022 Annual Report.