Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers Reveal Possibility of Separating Anticancer Properties of Vitamin D

20.03.2006


At the right dose, vitamin D is important for bone development and may help protect against the development of several cancers, particularly colorectal cancer. However, large quantities designed to exploit the vitamin’s anticancer properties can lead to a toxic overdose of calcium in the blood. Now, research done at Georgetown University’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center indicates that it may be possible to separate the anticancer properties of vitamin D from its other functions.



Their study, reported in the journal Molecular Cell, found that mutant forms of the protein that binds to vitamin D in the cell do not allow vitamin D to promote bone development and calcium transport but do permit it to regulate an oncogenic protein known as beta catenin. Some modified forms of vitamin D itself, which do not alter bone and calcium, were also found to regulate beta-catenin.

“We found that we might be able to separate the two functions at the molecular level, and this raises the possibility that vitamin D can be chemically modified into a drug that will only have anticancer effects,” said Professor Stephen Byers, Ph.D. He and Salimuddin Shah, Ph.D., led an international group of investigators in this study.


The human body produces a lot of vitamin D from a brief exposure of the sun. The vitamin is made in the skin when a cholesterol-like molecule interacts with ultraviolet light. It has long been known that a lack of vitamin D can lead to the bone deformities associated with rickets, and the vitamin helps maintain calcium and phosphorous levels in bone and blood. Too much vitamin D, however, can spill calcium into the blood and lead to heart disease and death.

Population studies have also uncovered an interesting fact — that the risk of developing colon cancer is lower in people who live in sunny climates. Epidemiology studies have indicated that vitamin D is responsible for the protective effect of sunlight exposure on the incidence of several other cancers besides colon, including breast and prostate.

Byers and the research team suspected that beta catenin may interact with vitamin D in some fashion because of another known fact — activation of beta catenin causes most colon cancers.

To help them understand what vitamin D is doing in the cell, the researchers studied findings by other scientists who had looked at families who develop rickets due to an inherited mutation in their vitamin D receptor. Most of these patients had both rickets and alopecia (baldness). However a small number of families had mutations in the receptor which only led to rickets. “We know beta catenin is also involved in regulation of hair growth and we wondered if these particular mutations might also allow the receptor to regulate beta catenin,” Byers said.

“We found a mutation which caused rickets but not alopecia but which still allowed beta catenin to bind to the vitamin D receptor,” he said. This suggested to the researchers that it may be possible to separate the anti-cancer role of vitamin D from its effects on bone and calcium.

If a drug mimic of vitamin D can be developed, it could prove useful in preventing some cancers at their earliest stages, but would probably not offer any therapeutic benefit for later stage cancers, Byers said. “That’s because we know that by the time colon cancer is well advanced it fails to respond to vitamin D.”

About Georgetown University Medical Center
Georgetown University Medical Center is an internationally recognized academic medical center with a three-part mission of research, teaching and patient care (through our partnership with MedStar Health). Our mission is carried out with a strong emphasis on public service and a dedication to the Catholic, Jesuit principle of cura personalis—or “care of the whole person.” The Medical Center includes the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing and Health Studies, both nationally ranked, and the world renowned Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Liz McDonald | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://gumc.georgetown.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht New vaccine production could improve flu shot accuracy
25.07.2017 | Duke University

nachricht Chances to treat childhood dementia
24.07.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA mission surfs through waves in space to understand space weather

25.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Strength of tectonic plates may explain shape of the Tibetan Plateau, study finds

25.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

The dense vessel network regulates formation of thrombocytes in the bone marrow

25.07.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>