Are biological molecules taking the place of chemotherapy in the treatment of breast cancer? Converse biology professor Dr. Nian Chen will share her thoughts during a Feb. 26 forum at 6:30 p.m. in room 217 of the Kuhn Science Building.
“When chemotherapy is used to treat breast cancer, there is a 100% chance that side-effects will occur,” said Dr. Chen. “Traditional drugs of chemotherapy more or less hurt normal cells while killing the cancer cells. But biological molecules developed in recent years are more selective in which cells to target, and cause less damage to the body.” “Tamoxifen is one such molecule that blocks out hormone estrogen as a therapeutic agent for human breast cancer.”
Several types of human cancers, such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer and prostate cancer are hormone dependent. For example, human breast cancer is related with two female hormones; estrogen and prolactin,. Breast cancer cells can interestingly produce prolactin that targets on its receptor on the same cell and stimulate the cell growth. A vicious cycle is thus created in a self-sufficient manner.
According to Dr. Chen, prolactin antagonist-recently developed at Greenville Hospital System-is a protein molecule that was generated by DNA mutation of human prolactin gene. By changing a single letter in the whole gene, the mutant product has been shown to block the action of wild-type prolactin and slow down the cancer cell growth in test tubes as well as in animal bodies. “Human prolactin antagonist will be a potential therapeutic agent of human breast cancer,” Dr. Chen predicted.