“This cell-based study is exciting because it suggests these compounds are likely to be effective in tumors that remain dependent on estrogen for growth but are resistant to current therapies,” said principal investigator David J. Shapiro, a professor of biochemistry in the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Illinois.
Although multiple factors contribute to the development of breast cancer, estrogens play a key role in the growth of many tumors. More than 80 percent of breast cancer tumors in women over age 45 are activated by estrogen by way of a protein called an estrogen receptor. When estrogen binds to the receptor, this “estrogen-receptor complex” latches on to DNA and prompts it to transcribe the RNA blueprints for new proteins that promote cell growth, migration and division.
Current therapies for estrogen-receptor-positive (ER-positive) breast cancers include the use of drugs, such as tamoxifen, that interfere with estrogen’s ability to bind to the estrogen receptor. Over time, however, ER-positive breast cancer tumors become resistant to tamoxifen. In some resistant tumors, tamoxifen even begins to act like estrogen and actually stimulates tumor growth.
“Tamoxifen is useful in that it is very effective at blocking recurrence of breast cancer in patients for whom the entire tumor is removed,” Shapiro said. “But for patients who still have existing tumors, eventually those tumors will become resistant.”
Shapiro’s team sought to target other steps in the pathway of estrogen action. Using a technique they developed that can quickly determine whether the target DNA is – or is not – bound by the estrogen-receptor complex, the team was able to screen a long list of potential therapeutic compounds to see if they inhibited the binding of the complex to the DNA. They then tested these agents in ER-positive breast cancer cells.
The team identified several compounds that reduce the binding of estrogen-receptor complex to the regulatory regions of genes that are normally activated by this complex. These agents effectively retarded production of the proteins that promote the growth and proliferation of ER-positive breast cancer cells.
“These small molecules specifically block growth of estrogen-dependent breast cancer cells with little or no effect on other cells,” Shapiro said. “This work sets the stage for further development and testing of these inhibitors.”
The collaboration included researchers from the University of Colorado, the University of North Carolina, and the departments of molecular and integrative physiology and of chemistry at Illinois.
This basic research study was supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health.
Diana Yates | University of Illinois
Researchers develop eco-friendly, 4-in-1 catalyst
25.04.2017 | Brown University
Transfecting cells gently – the LZH presents a GNOME prototype at the Labvolution 2017
25.04.2017 | Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V.
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
25.04.2017 | Materials Sciences
25.04.2017 | Life Sciences