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Statins can fight breast cancer

Cartoon representation of a complex between DNA and the protein p53
Thomas Splettstoesser Based on atomic coordinates of PDB 1TUP, rendered with open source molecular visualization tool PyMol (www.pymol.org)

Breast cancer has probably affected the life of everyone in the United States. We all either have a family member or a relative or a friend who has had breast cancer and has been through the ordeal that breast cancer treatment is.

Fortunately for the women (and men) of Birmingham, Birmingham has an internationally renowned breast cancer research and treatment facility at the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. April Maddux heads the Breast Care Center of Birmingham at Brookwood Hospital.

New research published in the January 20, 2012, issue of the journal Cell report the success of the use of statins (cholesterol lowering drugs) in some breast cancer tumors based on the presence of one gene.

The p53 gene normally suppresses excessive cell growth but in some persons and in some people with a cancerous condition the p53 gene actually accelerates the growth of cancer. No exact definition of how these mutant forms of p53 become active and produce cancer assistance is known at present.

In an artificial system that resembles the three-dimensional structures in the human breast found that cells with the mutant p53 gene grow in an erratic and invasive manner similar to the most virulent forms of cancer. Using the same model the researchers were able to prove that stain drugs not only stopped the erratic growth of the mutant p53 cells but in many instances killed the cells.

The p53 activity was correlated with living breast cancer patients.

Although it may be a while this is a convenient and safe treatment method for breast cancer that shows great promise.

Carol Prives of Columbia University and William Freed-Pastor led the two parts of this research that was reviewed at the Eureka Alert web site on January 19, 2012.

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