Someone in the world is diagnosed with breast cancer every 23 seconds. It is the leading cause of cancer death worldwide among women and approximately 456,000 die from the disease each year. At The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), a scientist is taking aim at the molecular machinery behind this disease.
Armed with an award from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Catherine Denicourt, Ph.D., an assistant professor of integrative biology and pharmacology at the UTHealth Medical School, is studying a suspicious gene tied to increased risk of malignant breast cancer.
"This is innovative research that we hope will lead us to better, easier and more effective treatments for breast cancer," said Nancy G. Brinker, founder and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. "Susan G. Komen for the Cure has a tremendous urgency to deliver the cures more effectively, particularly for aggressive cancers that are so serious and difficult."
While the body is constantly replacing old cells with new, cancer occurs when cell growth spins out of control. It can lead to tumors that can shut down vital organs. Much research has focused on the genes that control cell growth. They are called tumor suppressor genes and aid in the production of the proteins that carry out this job.
Denicourt's research is focused on a tumor suppressor gene (p27kip1) that has been associated with aggressive breast cancer. "We're looking at non-genetic causes of abnormal cell division," Denicourt said. "This is a tumor suppressor. But when it moves from the nucleus to the cytoplasm it becomes a tumor promoter. If we can understand why this is happening, we may be able to develop drugs to prevent it."
|Contact: Robert Cahill|
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston