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UH researchers explore treatments for breast and colon cancers
Date:8/22/2011

HOUSTON, Aug. 22, 2011 University of Houston (UH) researchers have their sights set on developing possible treatments for breast and colon cancer.

In two separate, yet related, studies published in the June and August issues of the journal Molecular Endocrinology, professor Cecilia Williams and her team at the Center for Nuclear Receptors and Cell Signaling (CNRCS) explored the role of estrogen hormones in potentially treating and preventing these cancers. More specifically, Williams examined regulatory molecules called estrogen receptors (ER), which are the tools that allow estrogen and related molecules to act in the cell.

Although estrogen is a female hormone, both men and women have receptors that are activated by estrogen. There are two types of estrogen receptors, ERalpha and ERbeta. ERalpha activity is associated with inducing breast cancer in women, whereas ERbeta is hypothesized to help prevent colon cancer.

In the first study, featured on the June cover of the journal Molecular Endocrinology, Williams and her team focused on the impact of ERbeta on colorectal cancer cells in cultures, called cell lines, to see how estrogen hormones could be used to prevent colon cancer. For each cell line, the researchers introduced this estrogen receptor to allow them to study its activity in the colon cancer cells. They found an association between the expression of ERbeta and tumor-fighting characteristics of the cells and identified the presence of several proteins involved in the protective interactions.

"Through our research, we found that the presence of estrogen receptor beta not only slowed the growth of colorectal cancer cells, but they also helped to protect against further development of the cancer," Williams said. "Our work demonstrates the potential of novel hormone compounds that activate this estrogen receptor to become possible new colon cancer preventive treatments."

In the second study, t
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Contact: Lisa Merkl
lkmerkl@uh.edu
713-743-8192
University of Houston
Source:Eurekalert  

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