By Courtenay Mims, Class of 2004
Affecting millions of families nationally, breast cancer is the second leading cause of death for women in the United States. Closer to home, in South Carolina 593 people died from breast cancer in 1998 and close to 2,500 women were newly diagnosed.
Dr. Nian-yi Chen, Assistant Professor of Biology at Converse along with Dr. Wen Chen at Oncology Research Institute of the Greenville Hospital System, have conducted research related to a hormone, human prolactin (hPRL) and its relationship to human breast cancer. Their research reveals that hPRL, the hormone that stimulates mammary gland growth and milk production, plays an important role in breast cancer formation and growth.
Dr. Nian-yi Chen and Dr. Wen Chen have used recombinant DNA techniques to form a mutant of hPRL and tested its effect on a human breast cancer cell. The esults showed that mice treated with this mutant hormone have slower breast cancer growth than those injected with the placebo or hPRL, thus proving that the mutant hormone is active in inhibiting human breast cancer growth.
Their mutant hPRL has passed the safety test in rabbits and is currently waiting for approval from the FDA to enter clinical trials for the future treatment of human breast cancer. Dr. Nian-yi Chen plans to work with Converse College students in the research of the mutant prolactin in combination with current anti-breast cancer treatments.