Vitamin D Studied As Breast Cancer Treatment
As reported by the Vitamin D Council 1/13 Vitamin D As Possible Breast Cancer Treatment
A study published recently in the Journal of Cell Biology reports that
researchers have uncovered a molecular pathway that contributes to
triple-negative breast cancer, a deadly and treatment resistant form of cancer
that often occurs in young women. And more yet, vitamin D might be involved in
this molecular pathway. A molecular pathway is a series of actions among
molecules in a cell that lead to a change in that cell.
Lead author Susan Gonzalo, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and
Molecular Biology at Saint Louis University and colleagues also identified
vitamin D as a possible new cancer therapy, in addition to discovering three
biomarkers that will help identify patients who may benefit from the new
Triple-negative breast cancers are harder to treat than any other type of breast
cancer. Women born with the BRCA1 gene are at increased risk of developing
triple-negative breast and ovarian cancers. To date, chemotherapy is the most
effective and commonly used treatment of triple-negative breast cancer, but it
has profound side effects. The understanding of this new pathway will help
develop less toxic and invasive treatment options.
The researchers found that activation of the discovered pathway allows tumor
cells to continue growing unchecked. This explains why these cancers are less
responsive to typical treatment. The authors report that vitamin D can play a
role in turning off this pathway.
Finally, the researchers found that high levels of nuclear CTSL and low levels
of 53BP1 and nuclear vitamin D receptors are markers that identify certain
triple-negative breast cancers. CTSL plays a large role in tumor invasion and
the spread of cancer to other areas of the body. 53BP1 is involved in DNA
damage response. So, it makes sense that high levels of CTSL (indicates tumor
invasion) and low levels of 53BP1 (responds to DNA damage) would suggest the
existence of cancer. These biomarkers could allow doctors to customize breast
cancer treatment for the patient.
Researchers are currently studying the effectiveness of vitamin D alone or in
combination with different treatments in mice with breast cancer. Of course,
further clinical trials will need to be conducted before recommendations are
made, but nonetheless, the research is a breakthrough in the understanding of
breast cancer treatment.