Science Current Events | Science News |

New Findings in Breast Cancer

April 19, 2012

New findings in breast cancer research by an international team of scientists contradict the prevailing belief that only basal-like cells with stem cell qualities can form invasive tumors. Research led by Ole William Petersen at the University of Copenhagen (CU) and Mina Bissell of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and has shown that luminal-like cells with no detectable stem cell qualities can generate larger tumors than their basal-like counterparts. This may hold important implications for the diagnosis and the treatment of breast cancer as well as future personalized cancer medicine.

"It is fashionable to think of breast cancer as a disease that can be treated if cancer stem cells are killed off, but we are reporting a sub-population of cancer cells that have no obvious stem cell properties and yet can be tumorigenic and highly aggressive," Bissell says. "The existence of these additional sub-populations of tumorigenic cells tells us that the entire tumor needs to be eradicated, not just one sub-population of basal-like cells."

Bissell is a leading authority on breast cancer and a Distinguished Scientist with Berkeley Lab's Life Sciences Division. Petersen is a professor of Tissue Morphogenesis and Differentiation for CU's Cellular and Molecular Medicine department and a principal investigator for the Danish Stem Cell Center. They are the corresponding authors of a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that describes this work. The paper is titled "Tumor initiating but differentiated luminal-like breast cancer cells are highly invasive in the absence of basal-like activity." Other co-authors were Jiyoung Kim, René Villadsen, Therese Sørlie, Louise Fogh, Signe Grønlund, Agla Fridriksdottir, Irene Kuhn, Fritz Rank, Vera Timmermans Wielenga, Hiroko Solvang, Paul Edwards, Anne-Lise Børresen-Dale and Lone Rønnov-Jessen.

"Our findings were a surprise to us as we had hypothesized the opposite scenario," Petersen says. "We wanted to learn more about possible tumor suppressive properties so we set out to characterize the bulk of the tumor, which we assumed would not be tumor-initiating."

Most breast cancers originate in the milk ducts and lobules, which consist of luminal cells surrounded by basal cells, and the two most frequent subtypes of human breast cancer cells are named luminal-like and basal-like after their resemblance to the two major lineages in the normal human breast. For the past several years, it has been widely believed that basal-like cells with the undifferentiated qualities of stem cells were the source of invasive tumors. However, since a majority of breast cancers exhibit luminal cell differentiation, the Petersen-Bissell collaboration investigated whether luminal-like differentiated cells within a basal-like cell hierarchy could also become tumorigenic, or must these luminal-like cells acquire basal-like traits to become malignant.

"We applied some rare and mutually exclusive lineage markers to isolate subsets of luminal-like and basal-like breast cancer cells, which enabled us to do single cell cloning with a reasonable success rate," Petersen says. "We enriched for populations with or without prominent basal-like traits from individual tumors, and from single cell cloning of cell lines and recovered cells with a luminal-like phenotype."

What they discovered was that luminal-like cells without specific basal-like traits were fully capable of initiating tumors in laboratory test mice; in fact, the tumors generated by luminal-like cells were larger than those from basal-like cells. In addition, when tested in an invasion assay, these phenotypically pure luminal-like cells were more invasive than the basal-like cells.

"Our findings demonstrate that basal-like cells, as defined currently, are not a requirement for breast tumor aggressiveness and that within a single tumor there are multiple cells with tumorigenic potential," Bissell says. "This casts doubt on the current hypothesis of hierarchical or differentiative loss of tumorigenicity."

The marker used by the Petersen-Bissell collaboration to isolate the luminal-like cancer cells was milk mucin (MM), one of the glycans, the sugar molecules that are ubiquitous to cell surfaces and central to cellular signaling. Basal-like cancer cells were marked with the protein CD271. The MM glycan was detected by the antibody M18. The CD271 marker was detected by the ME20.4 antibody.

In their investigation, the collaborators found that the ability of the luminal-like breast cancer cells to form large invasive tumors depended on the expression of the glycoprotein gene GCNT1, which in turn is required for the MM glycan to be detected by the M18 antibody. The collaborators believe this finding might be of potential clinical importance for breast cancer as co-author Kuhn, a member of Bissell's research group, explains.

"There has been an increasing appreciation that glycans play an important role in malignant behavior and our work shows that inhibiting the activity of GCNT1 could prevent the invasive behavior of the aggressive luminal-like cancer cells if they express the MM epitope," she says.

Although Petersen emphasizes that any clinical implications of this work remains speculative at this time, the finding that multiple types of cells in breast cancers are capable of initiating invasive tumors, he says, could hold implications for future personalized medicine.

"While new avenues in breast cancer targeting have been strongly influenced by the concepts of tumor subtypes and cancer stem cells, we believe our data and recent data from other laboratories opens the possibility of targeting individual stages of differentiation of breast cancer cells within a tumor," Petersen says. "In that way personalized medicine in the future could rely on a cellular-composition-profile with each cellular component accounted for in the treatment design."

This research was supported by grants from the Danish Cancer Society, the Novo Nordisk Foundation, and the Danish Council for Strategic Research, and in part the National Cancer Institute, the breast cancer program of the U.S. Department of Defense, and the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Related Breast Cancer Current Events and Breast Cancer News Articles

Blood test supports use of potential new treatment for patients with stomach cancer
Testing cancers for 'addiction' to a gene that boosts cell growth can pick out patients who may respond to a targeted drug under development, a major new study reports.

Study shows patients require less painkilling medication after breast-cancer surgery if they have opiate-free anesthesia
New research presented at Euroanaesthesia 2016 (London 27-30 May) shows that patients undergoing breast cancer surgery need less painkilling medication post-surgery if they have anaesthesia that is free of opioid drugs.

Women may be able to reduce breast cancer risk predicted by their genes
Women with a high risk of developing breast cancer based on family history and genetic risk can still reduce the chance they will develop the disease in their lifetimes by following a healthy lifestyle, new research led by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggests.

Investigational CDK4/6 inhibitor abemaciclib is active against a range of cancer types
The investigational anticancer therapeutic abemaciclib, which targets CDK4 and CDK6, showed durable clinical activity when given as continuous single-agent therapy to patients with a variety of cancer types, including breast cancer, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), glioblastoma, and melanoma, according to results from a phase I clinical trial.

Study finds breast and ovarian cancer may have similar origins
While breast cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in women worldwide, ovarian cancer also is a significant source of mortality as the fifth leading cause of cancer death among women. These facts reflect the continued need for further understanding and innovation in cancer treatment.

Identification of a chemotherapy resistance factor in breast cancer patients
Chemotherapy is a key part of the standard treatment regimen for triple-negative breast cancer patients whose cancer lacks expression of estrogen and progesterone receptors and the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2).

High saturated-fat, low unsaturated-fat diet in adolescence tied to higher breast density
Adolescent girls whose diet is higher in saturated fats and lower in healthier unsaturated fats have higher breast density in early adulthood, which may potentially increase their risk for breast cancer later in life, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The research was published online today in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Intake of dietary fat in adolescence associated with breast density
Consuming high amounts of saturated fat or low amounts of mono- and polyunsaturated fats as an adolescent was associated with higher breast density in young adulthood. Breast density is a risk factor for breast cancer.

Breast cancer tumor-initiating cells use mTOR signaling to recruit suppressor cells to promote tumor
Not every breast cancer tumor follows the same path to grow. Some tumors have the assistance of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs), a diverse type of immune cell involved in the suppression of the body's response against tumors.

Gene therapy against brain cancer
Only a few days ago, the press (especially in English-speaking countries) enthusiastically announced the publication of a study that described in great detail the genetics of breast cancer, a discovery that according to many marks a breakthrough in the battle against this cancer.
More Breast Cancer Current Events and Breast Cancer News Articles

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Hope & Healing for Your Breast Cancer Journey: Surviving and Thriving During and After Your Diagnosis and Treatment

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Hope & Healing for Your Breast Cancer Journey: Surviving and Thriving During and After Your Diagnosis and Treatment
by Dr. Julie Silver (Author)

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Hope & Healing for Your Breast Cancer Journey will encourage comfort and encourage breast cancer patients and survivors with its inspiring stories and helpful medical information.

A support group from breast cancer diagnosis through treatment to rehabilitation and recovery, this book combines inspiring Chicken Soup for the Soul stories written just for this book and accessible leading-edge medical information from Dr. Julie Silver of Harvard Medical School. Patients and survivors will find comfort, strength and hope.

The Breast Cancer Survival Manual, Fifth Edition: A Step-by-Step Guide for Women with Newly Diagnosed Breast Cancer

The Breast Cancer Survival Manual, Fifth Edition: A Step-by-Step Guide for Women with Newly Diagnosed Breast Cancer
by John Link (Author)

The updated edition of the essential resource for the 250,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer each yearBreast cancer is the leading cause of death in women from thirty-five to fifty-four years of age, and few things are as terrifying and confusing as a diagnosis of this disease. The fifth edition of The Breast Cancer Survival Manual is a concise, information-packed guide that is newly revised to contain all of the latest findings to help the woman facing treatment feel informed and empowered. John Link, M.D., a pioneer developer of Breastlink Medical Group in Southern California includes the most current medical advice on • Tamoxifen, Herceptin, and other chemotherapy options • The growing importance of HER2 oncogene testing • Clinical research trials under way that...

Let Me Get This Off My Chest: A Breast Cancer Survivor Over-Shares

Let Me Get This Off My Chest: A Breast Cancer Survivor Over-Shares
by Margaret Lesh (Author)

Tamoxifen hot flashes, mastectomy, reconstruction, breast cancer etiquette, Frankenboobs, bras with special attachments—Margaret Lesh shares all in her funny, heartfelt collection of essays, anecdotes, and life lessons from the perspective of a two-time breast cancer survivor. She’ll tell you when it’s okay to play the cancer card, what you should take to the hospital, and gives suggestions on how to cope in those dark moments of the soul. With practical tips sprinkled throughout, LET ME GET THIS OFF MY CHEST explores how breast cancer changed her outlook on life, offering honest insights, humor, and sensitivity as she looks for the silver lining in a not-so-great situation. Whether you are a woman diagnosed with breast cancer or whether you know someone with breast cancer, this...

Breast Cancer Smoothies: 100 Delicious, Research-Based Recipes for Prevention and Recovery

Breast Cancer Smoothies: 100 Delicious, Research-Based Recipes for Prevention and Recovery
by Daniella Chace (Author)

The statistics are staggering. Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women--About 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. Second only to heart disease by a mere one percent, every ounce of prevention and every window of opportunity for healing is critical. In order to reduce the risk of developing this common disease, you need a targeted plan to protect yourself from common breast toxins and to strengthen your immune defenses.

In her delightful new book, Daniella breaks down the complex topic of oncology nutrition and the specific dietary needs breast cancer creates, into simple recommendations for making delicious smoothies that support healing and a healthy lifestyle.

What makes 100 Breast...

Breast Cancer (2016): 150 Latest & Illustrated Questions & Answers

Breast Cancer (2016): 150 Latest & Illustrated Questions & Answers

Why this book -- what is so exciting in the field of breast cancer? Take a look:
•Many early breast cancers, with timely and appropriate treatments, are now curable.
•The five-year survival rate of cancers confined to the milk ducts and milk lobules (DCIS & LCIS) has gone up to 100%.The five-year survival of Stage 1 (larger tumor or lymph node-positive tumor) has gone up to almost 90%.
•Combination of 3-D and Digital Mammograms Reduces False Positive Mammograms by 14% & Weeds out Invasive Ductal Carcinoma by 39 %.
•For the first time FDA labels a promising & new breast cancer drug the title of "Breakthrough" drug which doubles Progression Free Survival and extends overall survival (Ch:13).
•Do Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Advil, Aleve...Help Reduce Recurrence...

Heal Breast Cancer Naturally: 7 Essential Steps to Beating Breast Cancer

Heal Breast Cancer Naturally: 7 Essential Steps to Beating Breast Cancer
by Dr. Veronique Desaulniers (Author)

One out of eight women will be diagnosed with Breast Cancer. One out of 3 women will experience some form of cancer in their life time.

I was one of those statistics even though I was living a healthy lifestyle that consisted of organic foods, regular exercise, massage, Chiropractic care and colonics. How could somebody like me develop Breast Cancer?

That very question led to thousands of hours of research, study, soul-searching and prayer. It all came together as The 7 Essentials – 7 basic steps that are necessary for preventing and healing cancer, or any dis-ease for that matter.

Chapter 1 – Why Do I Have Breast Cancer?

Scientists have come to the conclusion that cancer is a preventable dis-ease that requires major lifestyle changes. Discover...

Chicken Soup for the Breast Cancer Survivor's Soul: Stories to Inspire, Support and Heal (Chicken Soup for the Soul)

Chicken Soup for the Breast Cancer Survivor's Soul: Stories to Inspire, Support and Heal (Chicken Soup for the Soul)
by Jack Canfield (Author), Mark Victor Hansen (Author), Mary Olsen Kelly (Author)

Along with the shock, fear and loss many women face upon a breast cancer diagnosis comes unexpected strength, wisdom, and strong networks of sharing, support and healing. In Chicken Soup for the Breast Cancer Survivor's Soul, survivors and their family members talk openly about how difficult their fight with breast cancer has been and how they made it through the dark times with a belief in a higher power and the support of those closest to them.

Breast Cancer Husband: How to Help Your Wife (and Yourself) during Diagnosis, Treatment and Beyond

Breast Cancer Husband: How to Help Your Wife (and Yourself) during Diagnosis, Treatment and Beyond
by Marc Silver (Author)

A unique guide, like none other on the market-packed with medical information, practical tips, psychological insight, and coping strategies-to help men help the women they love through this trying time.When Marc Silver became a breast cancer husband three years ago, he learned firsthand how frightened and helpless the breast cancer husband feels. He searched in vain for a book that would give him the information and advice he so desperately sought. Now this award-winning journalist has compiled just the kind of emotionally supportive and useful resource that he wished he had been able to consult-to give men the tools they need to help their wives, their families, and themselves through this scary, uncertain time.In his years as a consumer journalist and veteran of the News You Can Use...

Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book (A Merloyd Lawrence Book)

Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book (A Merloyd Lawrence Book)
by Susan M. Love MD (Author), Karen Lindsey (Contributor), Elizabeth Love (Contributor)

For a woman faced with a diagnosis of breast cancer, the information available today is vast, uneven, and confusing. For more than two decades, readers have relied on Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book to guide them through this frightening thicket of research and opinion to find the best possible options for their particular situations. This sixth edition explains exciting advances in targeted treatments, hormonal therapies, safer chemotherapy, and immunologic approaches as well as new forms of surgery and radiation. There is extensive guidance for the increasing number of women living for years with metastatic breast cancer. With Dr. Love's warm support, readers can sort the facts from the fads, ask the right questions, and recognize when a second opinion might be wise.

Fight Now: Eat & Live Proactively Against Breast Cancer

Fight Now: Eat & Live Proactively Against Breast Cancer
by Aaron Tabor, MD

Dr. Tabor’s FIGHT NOW book provides information on lifestyle choices that might improve breast health and overall health. The purpose of Dr. Tabor’s medical research is to empower you to become proactive against breast cancer now with specific food and lifestyle choices. We can make specific food and lifestyle choices to lower the risk of getting breast cancer, risk of recurrence, and risk of dying from breast cancer. The only alternative is to be reactive after you get breast cancer or have a recurrence of breast cancer. The choice is clear

Whether you are currently fighting breast cancer; are a survivor; or, simply trying to lower your risk, Dr. Tabor’s FIGHT NOW book will give you concise, critical information that you can start using today. You don’t have to read...

© 2016