Sunday, September 02, 2007

Newly created cancer stem cells could aid breast cancer research

In some ways, certain tumors resemble bee colonies, says pathologist Tan Ince. Each cancer cell in the tumor plays a specific role, and just a fraction of the cells serve as "queens," possessing the unique ability to maintain themselves in an unspecialized state and seed new tumors. These cells can also divide and produce the "worker" cells that form the bulk of the tumor. Pathologist Tan Ince transformed normal cells into these cancerous ones (whose membranes are stained green). The transformed cells retain their sheet-forming capabilities, resembling the tumor cells found in many patients. They also possess enormous potential to create and spread tumors. As many as one in ten is a cancer stem cell. These "queens" are cancer stem cells. Now the lab of Whitehead Member Robert Weinberg has created such cells in a Petri dish by isolating and transforming a particular population of cells from human breast tissue. After being injected with just 100 of these transformed cells, mice developed tumors that metastasized (spread to distant tissues). "The operational definition of a cancer stem cell is the ability to initiate a tumor, so these are cancer stem cells," declares Weinberg, who is also an MIT professor of biology.
Ince didn't set out to engineer these potent cells. As a post-doctoral researcher in the Weinberg lab and gynecologic pathologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital, he was simply trying to create breast cancer models that look like real human tumors under the microscope and behave like those seen in many patients. In more than 90 percent of human breast tumors, cancer cells resemble those lining our body's cavities. A trained pathologist can spot the similarities under a microscope. But the cancer cells previously engineered from normal breast cells for laboratory studies looked different. Ince suspected that researchers were transforming the wrong type of cells. --Click the title of this post to read the full article from its source--

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Potential new therapeutic target for breast cancer

A new publication in the journal Clinical Cancer Research reports on the genetic characterization of classic lobular carcinomas (CLCs), a type of tumour that accounts for 10-15% of all breast cancers. These tumours show a disappointing response to current forms of treatment (chemotherapy and endocrine therapy, since most of the tumours express estrogen receptors), so a team of researchers led by the Institute of Cancer Research set out to perform an analysis of their molecular genetic features, with a view to seeking potential alternative targets for therapy. Thirteen typical tumour samples were profiled for gene expression using a variety of techniques, leading to the identification of a genomic region that is amplified in the CLCs. From within this region, the gene FGFR1 was found to be over-expressed; this gene encodes the fibroblast growth factor receptor one, which is a cellular signalling molecule. A breast cancer cell line was identified that showed the same molecular genetic and expression profiles as the CLCs (despite its reported original derivation from a different type of tumour, a ductal carcinoma); inhibition of FGFR1 expression using either small interfering RNA (siRNA) or achemical inhibitor caused reduced survival of this cell line, but not of control cell lines.The researchers therefore concluded that FGFR1 signalling contributes tothe survival of classic lobular carcinomas cells, and possibly also to ductal carcinoma cells, and that it may therefore represent a useful therapeutic target for FGFR1-positive breast cancers. --Click the title of this post to read the full article from its source--

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Friday, December 01, 2006

Researcher, Pro-Life Advocates React to Abortion Drug-Breast Cancer Study

A leading biochemist who has published internationally-respected studies on breast cancer and a top pro-life organization both reacted to a study released Thursday showing the RU 486 abortion drug helped suppress the breast cancer gene in mice. They agreed the drug will not likely benefit humans. The University of California study showed that the RU 486 abortion drug works to suppress the progesterone hormone that triggers the breast cancer gene to produce cancerous tumors. But Dr. Joel Brind, a Yale-educated endocrinologist who teaches biology at Baruch College in New York, told he doesn't think the drug will offer any benefit to women. "There is reason to believe that RU 486 as an anti-progestin might suppress growth of breast cancer in an experimental system in rodents, but RU 486 also neutralizes the essential hormone cortisol which mice do not make," Brind said. "Therefore, there is good reason to believe that such a drug would not be an effective anti-cancer drug in people," he told --Click the title of this post to read the full article from its source--

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Study: Abortion pill blocks breast cancer gene

American scientists caution that their research is still in the exploratory stages, but recent results have shown the abortion drug RU-486 prevented tumors in mice bred with a breast cancer gene. Although no one is suggesting women use the abortion pill to prevent breast cancer, the experiment did show that RU-486 blocks a hormone called progesterone, which activates the breast cancer gene BRCA1. "All of us have to be cautious," said cell biologist Eva Lee of the University of California, Irvine, who led the research published in Friday's edition of the journal Science. "But I do think if there is a better anti-progesterone available, hopefully there will be other options in the future for these women." Women today have few options to prevent breast cancer, and if researchers could produce a safer hormone blocker it would offer a viable alternative for women with the BRCA1 gene.Cancer specialists not involved with the experiment praised the work, even as they warned women not to get their hopes up. --Click the title of this post to read the full article from its source--

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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Researchers devise method to search for breast cancer drugs

Scientists have found a computational method that charts chemical space in the search for new breast cancer treatments. The technique has already resulted in the discovery of compounds that have performed better than current standard antioestrogen drug tamoxifen. --Click the title of this post to read the full article from its source--

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