Researchers have identified a key protein potentially involved in regulating breast cancer progression.
Researchers at Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y. Led by professor Costel Darie, the team worked to identify the binding partner of Tumor Differentiating Factor (TDF), a pituitary hormone that had previously been shown to reduce cancer progression in breast cancer cells.
Earlier studies had shown that breast cancer cells treated with TDF lost their cancerous characteristics and began acting like normal mammary cells, suggesting that TDF had tumor-suppressing capabilities. However, how TDF acted remained unclear, leading Darie's group to initiate a search for a cellular receptor in cancer cells that might bind TDF and transmit its anti-tumorigenic cues.
Looking toward the next step, Darie asserted that "finding the receptor for the TDF hormone will allow us to rationally design drugs that will have a potent ability to stop cancer progression." He continued, "We will also be able to use TDF as a biomarker for breast cancer onset, thereby improving diagnoses."
Though cancer incidence and mortality rates have declined over the past 30 years, breast cancer remains a major killer: In 2007, breast cancer accounted for about 40,000 deaths in the U.S., while another 200,000 women were diagnosed, according to the Center for Disease Control.