The information relating to the patient-derived breast cancer constructs grown in the bioreactor by Becker and coworkers at the NASA/Johnson suggests that this model simulates events that occur as breast tumors progress within the body. This line of research therefore offers potential for increasing knowledge on the basic biology of human breast cancer. For more immediate application, this research also provides for the first time an opportunity to test breast cancer therapies on a patient's cancer cells in culture before extending that therapy to the patient herself.
With the healthy cells, Richmond is developing a normal breast tissue-equivalent model, a scientific description of how healthy breast tissue grows. A routine capability to model patient-specific breast cancer then could allow for testing and developing of realistic therapies.
For example, hormonal therapy is an important treatment option for approximately a third of previously untreated breast cancer patients. It is well known that breast tissue responds to estrogens. However, normal breast tissue in a standard 2-dimensional culture does not demonstrate any estrogenic response.
Richmond plans experiments that will determine if 3-dimensional constructs of normal breast tissue in the Bioreactor will respond to estrogen. If so, then Bioreactors could be used to tailor hormonal therapies that more closely match what will stop growth of cancer cells with minimal side effects for the patient.
To begin this research, Richmond established a cell repository from noncancerous breast tissue donated by a young woman carrying a single defective ATM gene. The debilitating syndrome ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T) results when both of the two ATM genes normally present in the body become defective. These A-T individuals have about a 100-fold increased risk of all cancers plus other serious pr
Contact: john horack
NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center--Space Sciences Laboratory