COLUMBIA, Mo. Researchers at the University of Missouri have proven that a compound initially developed as a cholesterol-fighting molecule not only halts the progression of breast cancer, but also can kill the cancerous cells.
"Cholesterol is a molecule found in all animal cells and serves as a structural component of cell membranes," said Salman Hyder, the Zalk Endowed Professor in Tumor Angiogenesis and professor of biomedical sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center at MU. "Because tumor cells grow rapidly they need to synthesize more cholesterol. Scientists working to cure breast cancer often seek out alternative targets that might slow or stop the progression of the disease, including the elimination of the cancerous cells. In our study, we targeted the production of cholesterol in cancer cells leading to death of breast cancer cells."
Previous studies suggest that 70 percent of breast cancers found in women are hormone dependent and can be treated with anti-hormone medicines such as tamoxifen. Although tumor cells may initially respond to therapies, most eventually develop resistance which causes breast cancer cells to grow and spread. Cholesterol also can contribute to the development of anti-hormone resistance because cholesterol is converted into hormones in tumor cells. Therefore, these cholesterol-forming pathways are attractive therapeutic targets for the treatment of breast cancer.
Using compounds initially developed by Roche Pharmaceuticals for the treatment of high cholesterol, which reduces cholesterol in a different manner than the widely used statins, Hyder and his team administered the molecule to human breast cancer cells. They found that the compound was effective in reducing human breast cancer cell growth and often caused cancer cell death. Most interestingly they found that the cholesterol lowering drug they tested destroyed an estrogen receptor, a prot
|Contact: Jeff Sossamon|
University of Missouri-Columbia