A drug currently used to treat ovarian cancer could help in treating one of the most aggressive forms of breast cancer. A team of Irish researchers found the drug APR-246 prevents the growth of triple-negative breast cancer cells.

The study, published in the International Journal of Cancer, concludes that if the drug is successful in clinical trials, it could potentially save the lives of patients diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, which is very difficult to treat.

“At the moment the only form of drug treatment available to patients with triple negative breast cancer is chemotherapy,” the study’s co-author Naoise Synnott, a Ph.D. student at University College Dublin (UCD), reportedly said.

“While this will work well for some patients, others may find that their cancer cells don't respond as well as might be hoped to chemo, leading patients suffering the side effects of this treatment without any of the desired outcomes.”

The study was funded by Breast-Predict, a cancer research center affiliated to the Irish Cancer Society and Clinical Cancer Research Trust. Researchers from UCD and St. Vincent’s University Hospital conducted laboratory tests of the drug with a combination of chemotherapy treatments.

“Over the last two decades drugs such Herceptin have been discovered to target or block proteins that are responsible for the growth of some breast cancers,” William Gallagher, director of Breast-Predict, reportedly said. “Finding a similar drug therapy for triple-negative breast cancer has so far eluded scientists, making these findings all the more important.”

In the U.S., 230,815 women and 2,109 men were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Triple-negative breast cancer accounts for one in six breast cancer cases worldwide, and is mostly seen in younger women.