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Cancer researchers discover how BRCA1 mutation starts breast, ovarian cancers
Date:7/15/2013

sible flames (oxidative stress) but doesn't reach the smoldering fire cell damage below.

He says: "Our research confirms that anti-estrogens can delay the onset of breast and ovarian cancers in carriers of BRCA1 mutations. Thus, the challenge is finding a way to block the antioxidant activity of estrogen without affecting its other activities that are necessary for female health. Modification of this one aspect of estrogen function would disrupt this significant cancer-initiating process while maintaining the positive effects of this hormone."

Dr. Gauthier and Dr. Mak discovered this critical interaction between BRCA1, Nrf2 and estrogen in initiating women's cancers by making use of genetically engineered mice. By examining the links between BRCA1 and oxidative stress in these mutant animals as well as in normal breast cells and breast tumours, they were able to generate results that finally explain why loss of a tumour suppressor gene normally active in all tissues leads only to breast and ovarian cancers. The missing piece of the puzzle was estrogen and its unexpected effects on the antioxidant regulation mediated by Nrf2.

Dr. Mak, Director of The Campbell Family Institute for Breast Cancer Research, is an internationally acclaimed immunologist renowned for his 1984 cloning of the genes encoding the human T cell receptor. He is also Professor, University of Toronto, in the Departments of Medical Biophysics and Immunology.


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Contact: Jane Finlayson
jane.finlayson@uhn.ca
416-946-2846
University Health Network
Source:Eurekalert

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