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Study: Leukemia Treatment Carries Risk of Breast Cancers

Ivanhoe Broadcast News

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- The Stat5a gene, known to spur the growth of some types of leukemia, may also play a significant role in the development of some breast cancers, according to researchers from Georgetown University Medical Center.

Does Stat5a play the 'good guy' or the 'bad guy'? Well, say the researchers, that all depends.

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"Our studies [of] in vivo mouse models illustrate a dual role for the Stat5a protein in breast tissue," the study's lead author, Anne Miermont, MS, a doctoral student in tumor biology at Georgetown was quoted as saying. "While it can contribute to the growth of one type of precancerous lesion in the breast, this protein also appears to protect mammary cells from carcinogenic exposure."

The findings, presented at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in Washington, D.C., indicate this protein behaves differently in developing breast cancer cells, depending upon the estrogen receptor status. When estrogen receptor levels were positive, loss of Stat5a reduced development of breast cancer cells. However, when estrogen receptor levels were normal, loss of Stat5a not only had no effect on developing cancer cells, but it increased susceptibility to carcinogen-induced breast cancer.

The researchers emphasize that if the Stat5a protein is a target in the treatment of leukemia or other cancers, "it is important to fully understand how altering its function impacts the breast."

These findings need to be validated and expanded, say researchers, but they add, "this study underscores the need to fully understand the mechanisms that regulate its different roles in breast cells and how changes in Stat5a activity may affect different types of breast cancer generation."

SOURCE: 2009 Annual Meeting of the Endocrine Society in Washington, D.C.

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Last updated 6/17/2009

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May 1, 2010
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