Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Findings suggests that blocking estrogen may be crucial to lung cancer survival


New and effective treatments for lung cancer may rest on their ability to hinder the action of estrogen in lung cancer cells, according to two studies published in the current issue of Cancer Research. The University of Pittsburgh studies build on current knowledge about the relationship between estrogen and lung cancer growth and suggest that blocking estrogen may be vitally important to improving survival from the disease.

Since 1930, a 600 percent increase in death rates from lung cancer has been reported in women in the United States, leading some experts to suggest that women may be more susceptible to lung cancer than men. The current research contends that this could be due to the effects of estrogen on the lungs. "Our studies continue to show that lung cancer cells grow in response to estrogen and that stopping or slowing the spread of the disease may be dependent on blocking the action of estrogen," said Jill Siegfried, Ph.D., professor, department of pharmacology and co-leader, Lung and Thoracic Malignancies Program, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. "In fact, in previous studies, we have observed that lung tumor cells contain estrogen receptors at levels comparable to breast cancer cells." A receptor is a structure on the surface of a cell that selectively receives and binds substances.

In the first study, Laura Stabile, Ph.D., instructor in the department of pharmacology at the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues examined methods to block the action of estrogen in human lung tumors grafted in mice. They compared the effect of blocking the estrogen receptor (ER) pathway alone to blocking it in combination with another receptor pathway – the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). The investigators combined an agent approved for inhibiting the EGFR pathway, gefitinib (Iressa®), with an anti-estrogen agent, fulvestrant (Faslodex®) – a treatment commonly used to manage breast cancer in women with ER positive tumors, but not yet approved for clinical lung cancer treatment. They found that the combined treatment resulted in a tumor volume decrease of 59 percent, compared to a 49 percent decrease for gefitinib treatment alone and a 32 percent decrease for fulvestrant treatment alone. They also found that lung tumors in the combined treatment group were comprised mainly of dead and dying cells, while the number of these cells in the single treatment groups was significantly lower. The study suggests that an interaction between treatments that target both ER and EGFR may enhance the anti-tumor effects of therapy over the use of each agent alone. A pilot clinical trial is already underway testing the combination therapy in women with advanced lung cancer.

"Evidence from our study confirms what has been described for breast cancer – that blocking the estrogen receptor and the epidermal growth factor receptor pathways together is more effective," said Dr. Stabile.

In the second study, Pamela Hershberger, Ph.D., assistant professor in the department of pharmacology at the University of Pittsburgh, examined the effect of estrogen on the expression of genes in lung cancer cells. Using gene arrays, Dr. Hershberger and colleagues reported that some of the same growth genes induced by estrogen in breast cancer also are regulated by estrogen in lung cancer. In addition, the same estrogen inhibitor, fulvestrant, that was active against lung cancer in Dr. Stabile’s study also blocked the ability of estrogen to regulate lung cancer cell gene expression. Dr. Hershberger’s study further showed that other proteins needed for ER to act in breast cancer are found in lung cancer cells.

"Both of these studies clearly suggest that lung cancer cells respond to estrogen and that improving overall patient survival may be contingent upon identifying therapies that target specific pathways and put a halt to estrogen signaling," said Dr. Siegfried.

The studies were funded by a Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) award in lung cancer from the National Cancer Institute to the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.

Co-investigators on the first study include Jennifer S. Lyker, Christopher T. Gubish, Weiping Zhang, Ph.D., Jennifer R. Grandis, M.D., and Dr. Siegfried. Co-investigators on the second study include Mark Nichols, Ph.D., A. Cecilia Vasquez, Beatriz Kanterewicz, Stephanie Land, Ph.D., and Dr. Siegfried.

Clare Collins | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Molecular doorstop could be key to new tuberculosis drugs
20.03.2018 | Rockefeller University

nachricht Modified biomaterials self-assemble on temperature cues
20.03.2018 | Duke University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Thawing permafrost produces more methane than expected

20.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Scientists invented method of catching bacteria with 'photonic hook'

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Next Generation Cryptography

20.03.2018 | Information Technology

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>