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Archive - May 31, 2019

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Transcription Factor “Switch” Appears to Trigger Metastasis & Drug Resistance in ER-Positive Breast Cancer, Early-Stage Study Suggests

In early-stage research, led by scientists from Imperial College London and The Institute of Cancer Research, London, researchers have identified a genetic “switch” in breast cancer cells that boosts the production of a type of internal scaffolding. This scaffolding is made of a protein called keratin-80 that is related to the keratin protein that helps keep hair strong. Boosting the amount of this scaffolding makes the cancer cells more rigid, which the researchers say may help the cells clump together and travel in the blood stream to other parts of the body. The researchers studied human breast cancer cells treated with a common types of breast cancer drug called aromatase inhibitors. The team found the same switch is involved in breast cancer cells becoming resistant to the medication (meaning the drugs are no longer effective if the cancer returns). Targeting this switch with a different drug could help reverse this resistance, and make the cancer less likely to spread, explained Dr. Luca Magnani, lead author of the research from the Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial: "Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, and causes 55,200 new cases every year. Aromatase inhibitors are effective at killing cancer cells, but within a decade post-surgery around 30 per cent of patients will relapse and see their cancer return - usually because the cancer cells have adapted to the drug. Even worse, when the cancer comes back it has usually spread around the body - which is difficult to treat." The results of this new work were published online on May 9, 2019 in Nature Communications. The open-access article is titled “SREBP1 Drives Keratin-80-Dependent Cytoskeletal Changes and Invasive Behavior in Endocrine-Resistant ERα Breast Cancer.”

A Mole Rat Species Is Immune to Pain from Exposure to Wasabi Spice; Key Seems to Be Rapid Evolution of Leak Channels in Nerve Cells Disrupting Transmission of Signal of Stinging Ant; Finding May Provide Insight into Solving Pain in Humans

A new report in th May 31, 2019 issue of Science provides the first evidence of a mammal -- the highveld mole-rat, a close relative of the well-known and extraordinarily long-lived naked mole rat -- being immune to pain from exposure to allyl isothiocyanate (AITC), the active ingredient of wasabi. Wasabi is a plant of the Brassicaceae family, which also includes horseradish and mustard in other genera. A paste made from wasabi’s ground rhizomes is used as a pungent condiment for sushi and other foods. The scientists who studied the highveld mole rats say that understanding how these African rodents evolved to be insensitive to this specific type of pain could point to new directions for solving pain in humans. "Mole-rats are extremely curious animals and we have been studying them at UIC for more than 20 years," said study co-author Thomas Park, PhD, Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. "This new discovery -- that they have evolved to be insensitive to certain pain stimuli common in their environment -- is another example of the cool biological lessons to be learned from studying them." Dr. Park worked alongside scientists from the Max Delbruck Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin and the University of Pretoria in Pretoria, South Africa, on the study. The research was conducted at UIC and in South Africa. The new Science article is titled “Rapid Molecular Evolution of Pain Insensitivity in Multiple African Rodents.” The researchers exposed the paws of eight species of mole rats to three compounds that induce a pain-like response. The three compounds were AITC, an acidic solution with a pH similar to that of lemon juice, and capsaicin, the spicy ingredient in chili peppers.