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.
Liz McDonald | EurekAlert!
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