Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Gene Blamed For Immunological Disorders Shown To Protect Against Breast Cancer Development

Date:
October 15, 2009
Source:
Georgetown University Medical Center
Summary:
Researchers are voicing alarm that drugs to treat a wide variety of allergies, asthma and autoimmune diseases now in human clinical trials may errantly spur development of breast tumors.

Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) are voicing alarm that drugs to treat a wide variety of allergies, asthma and autoimmune diseases now in human clinical trials may errantly spur development of breast tumors.

Related Articles


As the researchers report in the October 15 issue of PLoS ONE, the gene SYK and its protein product, Syk, are crucial for prevention of breast cancer in the mice and human breast cells they studied. The research is the most definitive yet to demonstrate the beneficial function of Syk as a tumor suppressor, but Syk is better known for its negative role in ramping up activity of the immune system, leading to a cornucopia of immunological disorders.

The concern the authors have is that agents for these conditions – which are now being tested in humans – might spur breast cancer development because they are designed to inhibit the activity of Syk. "Our study shows that in normal breast cells, Syk is needed to control growth and thus prevent breast cancer. So if people use a drug that stops Syk activity, they could be at risk for developing this cancer, particularly at a young age during breast development," says the study's senior author, Susette Mueller, PhD, professor of oncology at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at GUMC.

"Years of research has led us to believe that Syk is important in breast cancer, but we still need to find out why and when some women lose Syk function," she says. "In the meantime, we can only voice concern that inhibiting the protein may have unfortunate consequences."

She adds that Syk is a complex gene product, and that researchers elsewhere have also shown that it can promote development of other types of cancer, such as head and neck and certain forms of leukemia. "As we are discovering more and more, proteins can have different functions in the human body, depending on the context in which they are used. Syk is a perfect example of this phenomenon," Mueller says.

Mueller and her collaborators have been studying Syk for about a decade, and have the largest body of work detailing how it functions in the breast. They first showed that Syk protein is present in normal breast cells and its absence correlated with invasion and metastasis in tumor cells and later found that as breast tumors progressed, more and more Syk protein was lost. Now, it is recognized that the amount of Syk present in a tumor is an indicator of risk of metastasis.

In this study, first author You Me Sung, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher in Mueller's lab, conducted mice studies in which one of two Syk alleles were genetically deleted. (Because Syk is believed to be important in embryonic development as well, deleting both will not sustain life.) The research team demonstrated that loss of the single allele led to "profoundly" increased proliferation and invasion of normal breast cells in the mouse mammary gland during puberty, resulting in development of breast cancer in adulthood. They then studied normal human breast cells in laboratory culture, and showed that knocking out Syk protein dramatically increased cell growth as well, and produced changes that would allow cells to invade through tissue-like barriers.

"Our findings in living mouse and in human breast cells mirrored each other," Mueller says. "All the data on Syk suggest it is very important in controlling growth as breast tissue develops indicating a potent role as tumor suppressor for breast cancer."

The researchers are now studying patients who have lost Syk function in order to pinpoint the reason why the gene no longer produces its protein. Ultimately, the goal is to identify the molecules that Syk negatively regulates in order to target them for breast cancer therapy.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and by a postdoctoral research fellowship from the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Fellowship. The authors declare no related financial interests.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Georgetown University Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Georgetown University Medical Center. "Gene Blamed For Immunological Disorders Shown To Protect Against Breast Cancer Development." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 October 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091014204819.htm>.
Georgetown University Medical Center. (2009, October 15). Gene Blamed For Immunological Disorders Shown To Protect Against Breast Cancer Development. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091014204819.htm
Georgetown University Medical Center. "Gene Blamed For Immunological Disorders Shown To Protect Against Breast Cancer Development." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091014204819.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
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