Breast tissue tumor suppressor PTEN: A potential Achilles heel for breast cancer cells
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IMAGE: Michael C. Ostrowski, Ph.D. is a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at MUSC, a member of the MUSC Hollings Cancer Center, and senior author on this… view more 

Credit: Medical University of South Carolina

In an article published July 17, 2018 by Nature Communications, a highly collaborative team of researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and Ohio State University report that normal breast cells can prevent successful radiation treatment of breast cancer due to dysregulation between tumor suppressors and oncogenes. Tumor suppressors act like brakes that stop cells from undergoing uncontrolled growth, while oncogenes are the gas pedal. The tumor suppressor gene of interest in this study is PTEN, which is often mutated in human cancer cells.

An initial surprising observation that the stroma, or supportive connective tissue, in some women without cancer had abnormally low PTEN fueled this study.

“The results suggest that PTEN loss in normal cells may be a biomarker for identifying breast cancer patients who would benefit from adding specific inhibitors in combination with the standard radiation therapy,” says Michael C. Ostrowski, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at MUSC, a member

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