Prolactin in Breast Cancer Development, Dietary Methionine in Oncogenesis and More

  • Researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University conducted studies that shed new light on the role of the hormone prolactin. While prolactin has been known for its role in breast development and milk production in pregnancy, this new research established that it also plays an important part in breast cancer development. This finding may lay the foundation for creating new targeted drug therapies to treat breast cancer. The study was published in NPJ Breast Cancer.
  • Two researchers from Germany conducted a study revealing a new understanding of the activation mechanism of a cell growth protein SHP2. The excessive activity of this protein stimulates increased cell proliferation thus triggering cancers such as leukemia. Knowing the mechanism of activation of this protein is crucial for designing therapeutic strategies to inhibit this protein. The study proves wrong the prior understanding of this mechanism. The new insight paves the way for developing new targeted therapies to prevent excessive cell proliferation caused by this protein. The study was published in PNAS.
  • A researcher from the Purdue University found a way to synthesize a compound that can fight a protein involved in multiple cancers, including breast, brain, colorectal, prostate, lung, and liver cancers. The protein, called BRAT1, was previously considered unsuitable as a drug target because of its chemical properties. The compound, Curcusone D, which belongs to a Curcusone family of compounds and originally came from a shrub named Jatropha curca, can now be synthesized in a lab. The compound kills cancer cells and can keep cancer from metastasizing. As Curcusone D compound is very hard to extract from the plant and since it is the only compound that can inhibit BRAT1 protein, synthesizing it in a lab is a very important discovery. Pending some toxicity studies, this compound could be a significant addition to the therapeutics against cancer. This research was reported in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
  • A group of scientists from Japan conducted a study on how cell proliferation (oncogenesis) and cell death were regulated, focusing on genes p38, JNK, and slpr. Based on the knowledge that dietary nutrients can control p38, the study was done on fruit flies. Researchers manipulated the amount of dietary amino acid methionine and established that decreasing the amount of the methionine in the diet prevented p38-controlled oncogenesis. One of the study findings was that the oncogene slpr could mediate the signaling pathways controlled by other oncogenes. The researchers hope that their findings can be translated to human cancers and help explain how they develop. The study was published in eLIfe.