Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Hormone sensitivity of breast stem cells presents drug target

12.04.2010
Researchers at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute have discovered that breast stem cells are exquisitely sensitive to the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone, a finding that opens the way for the development of new preventions and treatments for breast cancer.

The discovery, by scientists in the institute's Stem Cells and Cancer and Bioinformatics divisions, also explains decades of evidence linking breast cancer risk to exposure to female hormones.

It has been published online today in the international journal Nature.

Dr Jane Visvader, who led the research with Dr Geoff Lindeman, said sustained exposure to oestrogen and progesterone was a well-established risk factor for breast cancer. "There is a clear evidence that the more menstrual cycles a woman has the greater her breast cancer risk," Dr Visvader said. "There is even an increase in breast cancer risk in the short-term following pregnancy. However the cellular basis for these observations has been poorly understood."

In the mid-2000s, Drs Visvader and Lindeman discovered breast stem cells in both mice and humans. Unexpectedly, however, they also found that breast stem cells lacked 'receptors' that would allow them to be directly controlled by the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone.

Now, work by Drs Visvader and Lindeman in collaboration with Drs Marie-Liesse Asselin-Labat, Gordon Smyth and others at the institute, has revealed that despite lacking receptors for oestrogen and progesterone, breast stem cells are still remarkably sensitive to female hormones.

Using mouse models, they showed that when the ovaries were removed or the animals were treated with hormone inhibitors (which are in clinical use as anti-breast cancer agents), breast stem cell numbers dropped and the cells appeared to become dormant.

Dr Lindeman, who is also a medical oncologist at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, said this finding helped to explain why the effects of 'chemoprevention' – a treatment aimed at breast cancer prevention continued long after anti-estrogen tablets have been stopped.

"Our research also revealed that during pregnancy there is a profound increase in breast stem cell numbers," Dr Lindeman said.

"This might account for the short-term increase in cancer risk associated with pregnancy."

Further studies, in collaboration with Dr Jack Martin at St Vincent's Institute Melbourne and Dr Hisataka Yasuda at the Nagahama Institute for Biochemical Science, identified the RANK ligand pathway as the key cell-signalling pathway responsible for the indirect control of breast stem cells in pregnancy.

Dr Lindeman said inhibitors of RANK signalling have been developed and are currently in clinical trials to help maintain bone strength and treat breast cancer that has spread to the bones. "Our discovery suggests that inhibitors of RANK or other stem cell pathways represent possible therapeutic strategies that could also be investigated as breast cancer prevention agents," Dr Lindeman said.

The research was supported by the Victorian Breast Cancer Research Consortium / Victoria Cancer Agency, Susan G. Komen Foundation, National Breast Cancer Foundation, National Health and Medical Research Council, and the Australian Cancer Research Foundation.

Penny Fannin | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wehi.edu.au

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht In living color: Brightly-colored bacteria could be used to 'grow' paints and coatings
20.02.2018 | University of Cambridge

nachricht Computers aid discovery of new, inexpensive material to make LEDs with high color quality
20.02.2018 | University of California - San Diego

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rare find from the deep sea

20.02.2018 | Life Sciences

In living color: Brightly-colored bacteria could be used to 'grow' paints and coatings

20.02.2018 | Life Sciences

Observing and controlling ultrafast processes with attosecond resolution

20.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>