Journal breast cancer research and treatment 2014

Helping breast cancer patients determine their HER2 status before commencement of  treatment can save more Nigerian women from unnecessary pain and death due to the disease.But that is if their oncologists are abreast with research in breast cancer treatment and are willing to incorporate it in their treatment plan.
Experts say most breast cancer patients in Nigeria are often treated on a one-suit-fits-all-basis; when in actual sense breast cancer differs from woman to woman and determining the type of breast cancer a woman  is having can help in dealing with the tumour with precision before it goes out of hand.
A woman’s Hormone Receptor Status and presence of the HER2(Human Epidermal growth factor Receptor 2)are two biological characteristics that have been indentified so far as being relevant in breast cancer treatment. The HER2 gene produces a protein that acts as a receptor(sensitive nerve endings) on the surface of all cells.
Hormones on the other hand are substances that are naturally made by the body and they influence the actions and growth of different cells in the body.Some types of breast cancer cells have been found to carry abnormally high numbers of receptors to some hormones,which may have an influence on how they grow and functions. Trastuzumab(marketed under the brand name Herceptin®) is the only approved therapy for women with aggressive breast cancer whose tumors express too much HER2 protein. Even in the face of what seems like a glimmer of hope,breast cancer is still not curable and the chances of survival offered through early detection and knowing ones HER2 status may not be a silver bullet after all especially for patients in Nigeria.No thanks to the cost of cancer treatment.
Many wives of Nigerian governors,eminent politicians ,top civil servants and business moguls diagnosed with breast cancer are known to have world class consultant oncologists attending to them overseas,some with impressive results to boot. Poor Nigerian women diagnosed with breast cancer usually have something akin to a death sentence hanging on their neck.Hence most organisations involved in breast cancer awareness and advocacy are calling for a national cancer treatment programme where government can help subsidize or even foot the bills of Nigerians diagnosed with cancer and at least reduce mortality from the disease.
Results published in 2004 from a large, randomized clinical trial showed that adding radiation therapy to surgery plus tamoxifen does not reduce 5-year recurrence rates or prolong survival in elderly women with early stage tumors. Some breast cancer cells have a leg up on survival—the genes they express make them more likely to spread and prosper in bone tissue.
In earlier work, HHMI researchers studying the genetics of breast cancer cells, found they could predict which cancer cells were most likely to spread into bone.
Now, they have found that breast cancers can turn on certain genes that increase their chance of survival if they spread to bone. When a cancer cell sloughs off the edge of a tumor in the breast, it faces a tough road to survive.
A team of Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) scientists has discovered that some loose breast cancer cells, have a leg up on survival—the genes they express make them more likely to prosper in bone tissue. The new findings, published August 29, 2013 in the journal Cell, could eventually lead to new drugs that block cancers from spreading to bone or other organs, he says. When cells from a primary tumor circulate through the body and begin growing in a new organ, a metastatic tumor is formed. Massague’s lab group discovered in 2009 that by looking at the genetics of breast cancer cells, they could predict which were most likely to spread to bone. But in the breast tumors with high levels of CXCL12 and IGF1, the researchers found, the genes weren’t originating from cancer cells.
Biochemical experiments revealed that when the mesenchymal cells supporting a tumor have CXCL12 and IGF1 turned on, and produce lots of cytokines, nearby cancer cells are selected for SRS activation.
Now, Massague and his colleagues are following up on how the phenomenon might play out in other organs.

Free resources for science teachers and students, including animations, short films, and apps. HHMI’s science magazine explores biomedical research through in-depth features, news, and perspectives. HHMI’s innovative research center where scientists pursue challenging problems in a collaborative setting. Women with breast cancer could benefit from taking progesterone, after research discovers how it modulates the actions of the estrogen receptor.
Researchers have discovered why breast cancer patients whose tumours display both oestrogen and progesterone receptors have the best chance of survival, which has long been observed but not understood. The finding could benefit up to half of all breast cancer patients, leading to the development of a hormone treatment that is cheap, safe and widely available. The team grew breast cancer cells that displayed both ER and PR in the laboratory, and made sure the cells had enough oestrogen and progesterone to bind to the receptors.
Since both receptors are transcription factors, Carroll’s team investigated whether this unexpected binding would affect gene transcription. The researchers found that the receptor bound to different regions of DNA depending on whether progesterone was present. The findings are particularly exciting because progesterone, which slowed tumour growth in both cells and in an animal model, is a cheap, safe, and widely available drug. Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. The review, published in the journal Addiction, supports an association between alcohol consumption and cancers located in the oropharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver, colon, rectum and female breast.
The findings also cast doubt on previous theories that moderate drinking protects against cardiovascular disease, suggesting that the correlation is not strong.
Slideshare uses cookies to improve functionality and performance, and to provide you with relevant advertising. With frequent follow up by a physician and regular breast examinations,survival rates among patients treated for breast cancer appears to be increasing yearly globally. The drug  targets cells that overproduce HER2, suppressing rapid tumor growth and enhancing the effectiveness of chemotherapy. The cell must not only remain physically intact as it rushes through blood vessels, but it also must find a new organ to lodge itself in, take in enough nutrients and oxygen to stay alive, and begin dividing, all while escaping notice by the body’s immune system.
The team also found that whether or not cancer cells turn on those genes depends on what their surroundings were like in the primary breast tumor. Such metastases are often harder to treat than primary tumors; the vast majority of people who die of cancer have not only a primary tumor but also metastatic disease. A set of genes dubbed the Src response signature (SRS) was more often turned on in the cells that metastasized to the bone.
They tested whether there were any other genes, outside the known SRS pathway, that were always turned up or down in the same cells.

The SRS gene signature, while it doesn’t significantly change primary breast tumor growth, makes cancerous cells slightly more sensitive to the cytokines produced by the mesenchymal cells. Both are transcription factors, which means they are both involved in switching genes on and off in cells.
Once oestrogen has bound to ER on the surface of these cells, the ER enters the cell and ends up in the nucleus, where it attaches to specific regions of DNA, switching on transcription of a group of genes that promote cell division and hence tumour growth. The researchers then removed the PR (which had bound to progesterone) from the cells, and were surprised to find that the PR was now bound to the ER.
They examined where the ER would attach to DNA in the absence of progesterone, and looked at where the ER would attach to DNA in the presence of progesterone and its receptor. In other words, the PR (that had bound to progesterone) was changing the genes that the ER was switching on or off. Her paper draws on an analysis conducted by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
Heavier drinking leads to a greater risk, Connor writes, but a threat still exists for drinkers who consume even a moderate to low amount of alcohol.
Some cancer cells have more receptors than normal, which means they are receiving more signals to grow and divide. In the past,breast cancer patients usually have a five year survival period from the date of diagnoses. She noted that there could be many reasons for this, including concern about the relatively short duration of follow-up of five years. If the breast tumor had molecular patterns similar to those found in bone, the tumor is more likely to spread to bone later. So a major goal of cancer researchers is to not only find ways to treat primary tumors, but stop cancer from metastasizing.
Then, because they are more sensitive to these cytokines, if the cells end up in bone tissue that expresses higher levels of the same cytokines, they will grow more aggressively. In mice, they’ve found that such drugs are effective at preventing metastasis, even though these drugs had previously failed at treating metastatic tumors that have already developed. Now, Jason Carroll of Cancer Research UK’s Cambridge Research Institute and colleagues, have taken a closer look.
Alongside this, the researchers saw that progesterone was associated with a slowing of cancer cell growth.

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