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Research study shows how proteins may develop new ways of treating breast cancer

Published: 
12 March 2008

A major research study based at the University of Southampton is looking into how specific proteins, which are involved in the growth and survival of breast cancer cells, may help to develop new ways of treating breast cancer.

The study, led by Dr Jeremy Blaydes, will explore how one specific group of molecules called C-Terminal Binding Proteins (CtBPs) prevent breast cancer cell death and encourage cell growth.

Scientists have shown that in breast cancer cells, CtBPs act to prevent another molecule - p53, which is vital in causing cell death, from doing its job, so breast cancer cells continue to grow rather than die.

Dr Blaydes study will investigate exactly how CtBPs keep breast cancer cells alive and then develop a way of experimentally changing CtBPs in order to promote the death of breast cancer cells.

Dr Jeremy Blaydes, of the Cancer Sciences Division in the University’s School of Medicine, said: “What we can show is that cancer cells need CtBPs to stay alive, so we’ve devised a laboratory technique to prevent cancer cells producing these proteins. We’re trying to understand what it is about CtBPs that the cancer cells need, so we can develop therapies to prevent cancers from developing.

“Breast cancer not only affects those diagnosed with the disease, but the lives of friends and family, so it is vitally important that we are utterly committed to working towards improved diagnosis, treatment, prevention and cure.”

The research is funded over three years by the Breast Cancer Campaign (BCC), a charity which specialises in funding independent breast cancer research throughout the UK. Dr Blaydes has discovered with previous BCC funding that current chemotherapies can work, in part, by inhibiting CtBP function in breast cancer cells.

Dr Blaydes adds: “By knowing more about CtBPs, we hope to improve our knowledge of how to use chemotherapy treatments more effectively.”

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