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Is the Mystery of Most Common Form of Breast Cancer Solved

Breast cancer causes second most cancer-related deaths in women in the United States. According to the National Cancer Institute, there were 1,92,370 new cases of breast cancer in women last year. 40,170 deaths were caused because of this dreadful type of cancer in women.

Types of Breast Cancer:This cancer can be classified into two types based on the sensitivity of the disease to hormones. These are naturally present chemical substances, in the body, which help different organs of the body to function properly. The hormone-sensitive type of breast cancer is technically called Luminal Breast cancer. It is the most common form of breast cancer in women which grows slowly. The form, being non-sensitive to the hormones is called Basel breast cancer and spreads fast.

Where lies the Root Cause:Researchers from the Tufts University School of Medicine, have identified the cells which cause the Luminal form of breast cancer. These cells have a special name called the Progenitor cells. There is no single definition of these types of cells in the medical world. It is because of lack of common consensus in understanding about these cells clearly.

However, these cells are loosely equated with stem cells sometimes and tried to be understood in contrast to them. One single important difference between stem cells and the progenitor cells is that, the former can divide itself any number of times into smaller cells while the latter has the ability to divide for limited times only.

Knowledge Gained from the Research:

  • The research study was funded by the National Institute of Health and was carried out on experimental rats.
  • The research study found that breast cancer originates in the milk producing cells in the breast pre and post pregnancy.
  • When naturally present chemical substances called proteins, which provide nourishment to these cells, were stopped from their normal function, the formation of tumor in the mice stopped too.
  • To prove their findings, the research team bred mice in the laboratory which had this protein, identified as Cyclin D1, inactivated and the gene which can enhance luminal breast cancer, activated.
  • They found that in the laboratory-bred mice, there were no Luminal breast cancer producing progenitor cells or tumors at all.

In this way, the Tufts University research team has proved that by preventing the availability of Cyclin D1 protein to the progenitor cells, Luminal breast cancer can be cured in near future.

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