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UT Southwestern researchers discover a new driver of breast cancer
Date:11/7/2013

DALLAS Nov. 7, 2013 A team of researchers at UT Southwestern has found that as cholesterol is metabolized, a potent stimulant of breast cancer is created one that fuels estrogen-receptor positive breast cancers, and that may also defeat a common treatment strategy for those cancers.

The multidisciplinary team discovered that a cholesterol metabolite called 27-hydroxycholesterol, or 27HC, promotes tumor growth in estrogen-receptor positive breast cancers, which are the most common type of breast cancer. Estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer was previously believed to be stimulated primarily by the female sex hormone estrogen and it is commonly treated using endocrine-based medications that starve tumors of estrogen.

The discovery of 27HC as another driver of breast cancer may explain why endocrine-based therapy is often unsuccessful, providing a new target for therapy, the researchers say.

"This information can be used to develop new therapies that inhibit 27HC action or production, or increase its metabolism, in effect cutting the cancer off from a key growth stimulator," said senior author Dr. Philip Shaul, Professor and Vice Chair for Research in Pediatrics and a member of the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Implications of the research that appears in Cell Reports today are significant.

One million new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed each year, and about two-thirds of those are hormone receptor-positive, meaning they contain receptors for the hormones estrogen and/or progesterone, according to the American Cancer Society. Estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer is particularly prevalent following menopause.

Resistance to commonly used endocrine-based therapies occurs frequently, which led the researchers to recognize that important estrogen-independent processes must be driving the cancers'
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Contact: Alex Lyda
alex.lyda@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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