Alcohol-breakdown molecule may play a role in breast cancer development

February 11, 2014 by Alison Barbuti, University of Manchester

(Medical Xpress)—New research looking at the biological process involved in breast cancer development has strengthened the argument for a potential link between alcohol consumption and the disease.

Scientists from The University of Manchester – part of the Manchester Cancer Research Centre – and the University of Salford looked at a particular , a biological molecule that accelerates chemical reactions - known as CYP2E1.

Their findings offer a possible target to improve outcomes for patients in the later stages of the disease.

Dr Costas Demonacos, based at The University's Manchester Pharmacy School who led the research, said: "This enzyme, known as CYP2E1, has been implicated in various liver diseases linked to alcohol consumption (Alcoholic Liver Disease (ALD), as well as diabetes, obesity and cancer.

"We wanted to understand why an enzyme known to function mainly in the liver was found to be heavily present in some types of breast cancer tissues. We also wanted to explore what other activities this enzyme might have that control the development of breast cancer."

The enzyme breaks down various molecules within cells, including alcohol. The by-products of this metabolism include reactive oxygen species (ROS), resulting in something called oxidative stress - in normal physiological conditions this aids cellular functions, whereas when concentrations of ROS are high or oxidative stress becomes chronic, cells can be seriously damaged.

Previous studies have shown that the enzyme is most strongly expressed in early-stage breast tumours rather than more developed tumours and scientists believe that it contributes to the progression of breast cancer. The Manchester team looked at the role it plays in various cellular functions in .

The study, published in Breast Cancer Research, found that depending on the stage of the breast cancer, high levels of the enzyme can help cells survive during stress.

They also found that inhibiting the activity of the enzyme in cells with high migratory potential promoted cell migration – a process linked to cancer spreading – known as metastasis.

Dr Demonacos said: "Now that we have a clearer picture of the role played by this enzyme in breast cancer development, scientists could use it as a target in the later stages of the disease, to slow down the spread of cancer as well as to personalise anti-cancer therapy.

"Since CYP2E1 is involved in alcohol metabolism too, our findings should allow new insight on the potential link between chronic and , by showing how alcohol influences the progression of cancer."

Explore further: Drug to reverse breast cancer spread in development

More information: Full text of the study: breast-cancer-research.com/content/15/6/R107

Related Stories

Drug to reverse breast cancer spread in development

January 26, 2014
Researchers at Cardiff University are developing a novel compound known to reverse the spread of malignant breast cancer cells.

Breast cancer prognosis associated with oncometabolite accumulation

December 9, 2013
The metabolic profile of cancer cells can be used to develop therapies and identify biomarkers associated with cancer outcome. In this issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation Stefan Ambs and colleagues at the National ...

New method to study secondary breast cancer metastasis

December 10, 2013
Research led by scientists at King's College London has discovered a new way to study the mechanisms that cause breast cancer cells to spread to the bone.

Researchers discover molecule that drives aggressive breast cancer

July 1, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Recent studies by researchers at Thomas Jefferson University's Kimmel Cancer Center have shown a gene known to coordinate initial development of the eye (EYA1) is a powerful breast tumor promoter in mice. ...

Breast cancer cells disguise themselves as neurons to cause brain tumors

January 15, 2014
Treatment and "cure" of breast cancer doesn't ensure that the disease won't spread to the brain. Too often, sometimes years after an initial diagnosis and remission, breast cancer cells are discovered growing as new tumors ...

Researchers find potential link between drinking alcohol and breast cancer

April 23, 2012
A research team this week will present findings that they say may finally explain the link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer.

Recommended for you

T-cells engineered to outsmart tumors induce clinical responses in relapsed Hodgkin lymphoma

January 16, 2018
WASHINGTON-(Jan. 16, 2018)-Tumors have come up with ingenious strategies that enable them to evade detection and destruction by the immune system. So, a research team that includes Children's National Health System clinician-researchers ...

Researchers identify new treatment target for melanoma

January 16, 2018
Researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have identified a new therapeutic target for the treatment of melanoma. For decades, research has associated female sex and a history of previous ...

More evidence of link between severe gum disease and cancer risk

January 16, 2018
Data collected during a long-term health study provides additional evidence for a link between increased risk of cancer in individuals with advanced gum disease, according to a new collaborative study led by epidemiologists ...

Researchers develop a remote-controlled cancer immunotherapy system

January 15, 2018
A team of researchers has developed an ultrasound-based system that can non-invasively and remotely control genetic processes in live immune T cells so that they recognize and kill cancer cells.

Dietary fat, changes in fat metabolism may promote prostate cancer metastasis

January 15, 2018
Prostate tumors tend to be what scientists call "indolent" - so slow-growing and self-contained that many affected men die with prostate cancer, not of it. But for the percentage of men whose prostate tumors metastasize, ...

Pancreatic tumors may require a one-two-three punch

January 15, 2018
One of the many difficult things about pancreatic cancer is that tumors are resistant to most treatments because of their unique density and cell composition. However, in a new Wilmot Cancer Institute study, scientists discovered ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.