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UNM Cancer Center researchers study new target for breast cancer
Date:12/4/2012

Physiology and a member of the Women's Cancers Program, to conduct studies on GPER. In the first study, Drs. Prossnitz and Hathaway will use cancerous and non-cancerous breast cells to discover the differences in biochemical reactions that estrogen receptors and GPER trigger. Both receptors ultimately stimulate enzymes that regulate cell growth and survival, but researchers know little about how the cascades of cellular reactions differ. Understanding this biochemistry will help Drs. Prossnitz and Hathaway explain how breast cancer cells respond to estrogen and become resistant to Tamoxifen, potentially resulting in better long-term breast cancer therapies.

In the second set of studies, Drs. Prossnitz and Hathaway will use mice lacking the gene for GPER to determine whether GPER affects how breast cancers form and progress. They will also evaluate whether GPER affects the ability of the primary tumors to metastasize. Dr. Prossnitz explains, "The primary tumor rarely kills women. But when the tumor spreads to another site in the body and affects the function of an organ, that can kill." Drs. Prossnitz and Hathaway will also test different combinations of drugs to develop potential therapies that could inhibit both ER-a, the dominant estrogen receptor in breast cancers, and GPER receptors. Such a therapy could prevent acquired resistance to existing breast cancer drugs and targeting GPER alone could be a new strategy for triple negative breast cancers.

In their final set of studies, Drs. Prossnitz and Hathaway will use small pieces of live human breast tumors and normal breast tissue to test different therapies and GPER function. These small pieces of tissue include not only the breast cells, cancerous or not, but also the surrounding cells and matrix. "Cells behave very differently in tissues," explains Dr. Prossnitz. "They respond to what their neighbors are doing, and to the kinds of neighboring cells. To understand their behavior in people, we h
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Contact: Michele Sequeira
MSequeira@salud.unm.edu
505-925-0486
University of New Mexico Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

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