In the past year, we have seen some excellent progress in the field of breast cancer. Researchers at the University of Texas found a way to reduce breast cancer recurrence, and five University of Cincinnati researchers won grants for their advances in the field. Now Ohio State University has earned its time in the spotlight with a new drug that reverses tumor growth.
The idea for the drug came from observing that breast cancer cells actually take advantage of estrogen proteins. Estrogens produce a weak form of calcium that protect cells and help them grow. To utilize this protection, cancer cells come equipped with estrogen receptors.
One might expect that the research team devised a way to block these receptors, but in fact they did just the opposite: they overstimulated them. The result is an overdose of calcium which kills the tumor cells instead of offering them protection.
David Shapiro, biochemistry professor at OSU, is impressed by the results of the drug so far. “In just 10 days, 48 out of the 52 tumors stopped growing, and most shrank 30 to 50 percent,” he said in a recent OSU press release.
(The OSU research team. From left: Neal Andruska, Lily Mahapatra, Mathew Cherian, Xiaobin Zheng, professor William Helferich; scientist Chengjian Mao; and professor David Shapiro. Photo courtesy UI News Bureau: L. Brian Stauffer)
The drug has been performing excellently in mouse models, but it may be some time before it reaches production. “It’s still in the early days for this drug, and there are many hurdles to overcome to bring BHPI to the clinic,” Shapiro said. “But so far, it’s been clearing the hurdles by a wide margin.”
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program funded this research. For more details on the funding for research at Ohio State University, peruse our Ohio State University Funding Report:
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