Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study Offers New Model For Breast Cancer

Date:
March 25, 2004
Source:
Whitehead Institute For Biomedical Research
Summary:
The last few years have witnessed critical advances in breast cancer therapies. Still, the disease afflicts one in eight American women, and scientists have yet to develop a living model with which they can study the intricacies of human breast-tumor behavior.

The last few years have witnessed critical advances in breast cancer therapies. Still, the disease afflicts one in eight American women, and scientists have yet to develop a living model with which they can study the intricacies of human breast-tumor behavior.

Related Articles


Now, a team in the lab of scientist Robert Weinberg at Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research has successfully grafted human breast tissue into the mammary glands of mice. As a result, the mice formed functional breasts that are capable of producing human breast milk. More importantly, some of these mice were engineered to form early stage breast tumors like those found in humans.

"This is the first experimental model of human breast cancer in the mouse that we've ever had," says Charlotte Kuperwasser, lead author of the study and a former postdoctoral researcher in the Weinberg lab who now is an assistant professor at Tufts University School of Medicine. The study appears online this week in the early edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Currently, researchers studying human breast cancer tissue must rely on biopsies on slides for their work, an effective technique in many respects, but one that doesn't allow scientists to view the tumors in action. Alternatively, they may propagate human breast cancer cells in culture. Attempts to create live models by injecting human cancer tissues beneath the skin of mice have been ineffective because the cancer cells used in these experiments typically are bred in Petri dishes and end up bearing little resemblance to human cancer. In addition, these tumor cells often stop growing after they've been injected.

"Here, the human tumor cells grow because we've created a human environment, and that's a powerful tool" for breast cancer research, says Kuperwasser.

To create this environment, Kuperwasser separated the two primary types of human breast tissue: epithelial cells, which form the internal tree-like structure of the ducts that allow milk production to occur, and stromal cells, which are composed largely of fat cells, connective tissue cells and blood vessels. She removed all epithelial tissue from the mouse mammary gland and then "humanized" the remaining tissue by injecting a layer of specially engineered human stromal cells. This created a hospitable environment into which she could then incorporate human epithelial cells. The mice soon formed functional human mammary glands, and when these mice became pregnant, the engrafted cells produced human breast milk.

By genetically engineering the stromal cells with a virus that over-produces two proteins implicated in breast cancer, many of these mice formed pre-cancerous human growths in the breast tissue grafts.

"This means that we should now be able to use these mice to study the early stages of human breast cancer development," says Weinberg, who also is a professor of biology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

These mice also may prove highly effective for testing potential breast cancer drugs. Because the tumors in the mice have developed naturally, results from such clinical trials most likely would provide a highly predictive indicator of how these drugs would behave in people. Kuperwasser is currently consulting with pharmaceutical companies who are developing breast cancer therapies. Meanwhile, Whitehead has filed a patent for this procedure.

The next step is to take advanced human breast cancer tissues from patients and incorporate them into these mice to see if the cancer continues to develop as it does in humans. "If so," says Kuperwasser, "then we'll really have a powerful model and tool to study both the development of cancer and how the tissue environment affects its behavior."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Whitehead Institute For Biomedical Research. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Whitehead Institute For Biomedical Research. "Study Offers New Model For Breast Cancer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 March 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/03/040324072358.htm>.
Whitehead Institute For Biomedical Research. (2004, March 25). Study Offers New Model For Breast Cancer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/03/040324072358.htm
Whitehead Institute For Biomedical Research. "Study Offers New Model For Breast Cancer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/03/040324072358.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) Advances in prosthetics are making replacement body parts stronger and more lifelike than they’ve ever been. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) Need another reason to eat yogurt every day? Researchers now say it could reduce a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins