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Dartmouth research points to protein S14 in treating breast cancer

William Kinlaw, an associate professor of medicine at Dartmouth Medical School, has been working on a protein called S14 since 1990. Over the past few months, however, the news about S14 has picked up. Through a series of recently published academic studies, Kinlaw and his colleagues are ready to pronounce S14 a potential drug target in treating breast cancer.

"Over the past three years, we've learned about S14 and its role in communicating information about the nutrient and energy supply to genes required for fat metabolism in breast cancer cells," says Kinlaw, who is also affiliated with the Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. "With this knowledge has also come the understanding that most breast cancers have found a mechanism to turn on the S14 gene."

He explains that these tumors are 'addicted' to S14, because it is required for the activation of a group of genes that allow the cancer cells to make fat. Kinlaw and his team have found that breast cancer cells die if S14 is removed, and their analysis of human breast tumors indicates that S14 is critical for metastasis.

"This makes sense, as fat is a crucial fuel for breast cancers," he says. "We believe this is especially so during a tumor cell's attempt to journey from the breast to other parts of the body, because the normal breast tissue supplies machinery that allows tumor cells to acquire fat from the bloodstream. Our data support the hypothesis that once the cells leave this metabolically friendly breast environment, the ability to manufacture their own fat becomes a make-or-break issue."

These findings are supported by three recently published articles. First, a few months ago, Kinlaw and his team published a study in the February 1, 2006, issue of Experimental Cell Research that further explored S14's relationship in driving fat metabolism in breast cancer cells. The researchers discovered that if you inactivate this protein, the c
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Contact: Sue Knapp
Sue.Knapp@Dartmouth.edu
603-646-3661
Dartmouth College
22-Aug-2006


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