Best of Breast: news for week ending 28 March 2014

Updated March 2016 – For more information on GcMAF, please join the GcMAF and GcMAF Cancer forums on Facebook – they are closed groups, so you have to wait for your membership to be confirmed.  They contain up-to-date information on sources of GcMAF, and also feedback and contributions  by people who are using GcMAF.

The news round-up from Google Alerts for Breast Cancer and Cancer, for the week ending 28 March 2014.

It’s an exciting week if you are a fan of peaches.

Yes, peaches are the latest drum roll in cancer-busting foods!  If we are to believe the research, eating peaches could help inhibit breast cancer.  Of course the study was conducted using (as usual) mice, and peach extract (i.e. more concentrated than the whole fruit itself), but the scientists claim the equivalent for a human would be a mere 3 peaches a day.  I’m not convinced that the high sugar content of peaches is good for cancer patients, but if you’re already eating peaches, this is a good reason not to stop.  It’s cheap, and you can find it in your supermarket aisle.

I had a hunt round for peach extract, and the only sources were peach powder and peach flavouring – I wonder which is the right one?

I’ve also discovered a study on peaches and breast cancer:  “Polyphenolics from peach (Prunus persica var. Rich Lady) inhibit tumor growth and metastasis of MDA-MB-435 breast cancer cellsin vivo” 

The other piece of news that caught my eye was about altering gut bacteria to minimise the side-effects of abdominal radiotherapy.  Scientists suggest that faecal transplants might be one way of doing this.  My interest in probiotics and gut flora, and in particular, Bravo Probiotic (which contains GcMAF) suggests that there are other less icky ways, and I think it’s a case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing.  Please read my posts on Bravo Probiotic (Maf314) and find out how it can maintain levels of immune cells CD4 and CD8 even through chemotherapy.

Other news of significance – two more pieces of research on triple-negative breast cancer, unfortunately still at the trial/mouse testing stage.


Rich Lady Peaches. This peach variety has a very firm interior compared to other peaches. This allows them to be harvested at near tree ripe maturity and still maintain good storage quality. Rich Lady Peaches are very juicy with a superlative natural sweetness. Image credit:

1.  Could eating 3 peaches a day help you beat cancer?

  • Lab tests have shown that treatments with peach extract inhibit breast cancer metastasis in mice.
  • The mixture of phenolic compounds present in the peach extract are responsible for the inhibition of metastasis.
  • “Cancer cells were implanted under the skin of mice with an aggressive type of breast cancer cells, the MDA-MB-435, and what we saw was an inhibition of a marker gene in the lungs after a few weeks indicating an inhibition of metastasis when the mice were consuming the peach extract,” said Dr. Luis Cisneros-Zevallos, a food scientist for AgriLife Research in College Station.
  • “Furthermore, after determining the dose necessary to see the effects in mice, it was calculated that for humans it would be equivalent to consuming two to three peaches per day.”
  • This work builds upon previous work at AgriLife Research released a few years ago, which showed that peach and plum polyphenols selectively killed aggressive breast cancer cells and not the normal ones.
  • The study was conducted using the peach variety Rich Lady. However, according to Cisneros-Zevallos, most peach fruit share similar polyphenolic compounds but might differ in content.
  • The study also determined that the underlying mechanism by which peach polyphenols are inhibiting metastasis would be by targeting and modulating the gene expression of metalloproteinases.

For more information:  J Agric Food Chem. 2009 Jun 24;57(12):5219-26. doi: 10.1021/jf900259m, Identifying peach and plum polyphenols with chemopreventive potential against estrogen-independent breast cancer cells.


Look away now … it’s a faecal transplant

2.  Cancer scientists seek to stop radiotherapy’s side-effects on ‘friendly’ gut bacteria

  • Researchers have launched a pioneering study aimed at finding ways to type individuals according to the bacteria in their guts.
  • The aim is to discover if some people’s microbial makeup makes them more susceptible to the side-effects of radiotherapy for bowel, prostate and other cancers.
  • Doctors have discovered that the state of a person’s gut bacteria can have profound implications on health.
  • “There is 1.4kg of bacteria in the average human gut. That is roughly the same weight as the human brain. Indeed, you can think of your microbiome as an extra organ inside your body and its behaviour can have distinct consequences.”
  • The project will try to profile the bacteria in a number of prostate cancer patients before they begin radiotherapy treatment for their condition.
  • The researchers will then study how each person in the group reacts to the radiation that is used to treat their tumours.
  • “The aim is to build up a profile of gut bacteria which will allow us to predict who will suffer side-effects that might limit the effectiveness of the radiotherapy. Then we can think of finding ways to treat people in advance of radiotherapy in future.”
  • One technique would involve administering medicines that would alter the makeup of a patient’s population of gut bacteria.
  • Alternatively their entire population of gut bacteria could be removed and replaced with another from a donor, a technique called a faecal transplant.
  • “The crucial point is that we are now becoming aware of how important the bacteria in our guts are to our general health – and that should help direct us to a range of new drugs and treatments for all sorts of different conditions in future..

For more information:  Microbiota and radiation-induced bowel toxicity: lessons from inflammatory bowel disease for the radiation oncologist, The Lancet Oncology, Volume 15, Issue 3, Pages e139 – e147, March 2014, doi:10.1016/S1470-2045(13)70504-7

3.  Stiffening of breast tissue in breast cancer may predict survival and metastasis

  • The stiffening of breast tissue in breast-cancer development points to a new way to distinguish a type of breast cancer with a poor prognosis from a related, but often less deadly type, UC San Francisco researchers have found in a new study.
  • In a mouse model of breast cancer, scientists led by Valerie Weaver, PhD, professor of surgery and anatomy and director of the Center for Bioengineering and Tissue Regeneration at UCSF, identified a biochemical chain of events leading to tumor progression.
  • Significantly, this chain of events was triggered by stiffening of scaffolding tissue in the microscopic environment surrounding pre-cancerous cells. The stiffening led to the production of a molecule that can be measured in human breast cancer tissue, and which the researchers found was associated with worse clinical outcomes.
  •  The findings, published online March 16, 2014 in Nature Medicine, may lead eventually to new treatment focused not only on molecular targets within cancerous cells, but also on mechanical properties of surrounding tissue, the researchers said.
For more information:  Nature Medicine (2014) doi:10.1038/nm.3497, Tissue mechanics modulate microRNA-dependent PTEN expression to regulate malignant progression

4.  BRCA1 cancer gene may be linked to uterine cancer

  • Women with BRCA1 mutations could be at increased risk of developing rare types of aggressive uterine cancer, in addition to their already well-known increased risk for breast and ovarian cancer, a new study shows.
  • Patients who plan to undergo a prophylactic salpingo-oophorectomy to avoid ovarian cancer should discuss the potential advantages and disadvantages of having a hysterectomy during the same procedure, according to data presented here at the Society of Gynecologic Oncology 45th Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer.
  • Hysterectomy has its advantages and disadvantages, Dr. Kauff explained. “It ensures complete removal of the fallopian tubes and can simplify hormone replacement therapy. It also eliminates a baseline risk of uterine cancer.”
  • On the downside, there is a higher risk for complications, higher cost, and longer surgical time. There have been no reported cases of cancer in the cornual portion of the fallopian tube after RRSO, he noted.
  • The researchers also looked at previous tamoxifen use, which is associated with an increased risk for endometrial cancer and endometrial changes.
  • Two of the women with uterine cancer had previously used tamoxifen (expected, 0.092; P = .004), and 2 had not (expected, 0.184; P = .015). “Women exposed to tamoxifen had a 22% increased risk,” said Dr. Kauff.
  • The study was discussed at the Society of Gynecologic Oncology’s annual meeting, 2014 in Tampa, Fla.

5.  BRCA1 plays role in skeletal muscle metabolism

  • Expression of BRCA1 appears to play a key role in the regulation of metabolic function in skeletal muscle, according to recent findings.
  • The University of Maryland School of Public Health researchers evaluated the activity ofBRCA1, a known DNA repair gene and an estrogen-sensitive tumor suppressor gene, in two separate analyses, one that included mice and another that involved human participants.
  • In the human study, 26 healthy adults (13 men, 13 women) were recruited to participate in bouts of exercise.
  • According to the researchers, these findings suggest that BRCA1 should be considered in future studies of metabolic function and dysfunction.

For more information:  J Lipid Res. 2014 Feb 24, BRCA1 is a Novel Regulator of Metabolic Function in Skeletal Muscle


XBox Protein One – not a gaming console, alas, just a gene!

6.  XBP1 Gene Implicated in Progression and Relapse of Triple Negative Breast Cancer

  • Scientists from Weill Cornell Medical College and Houston Methodist have found that a gene previously unassociated with breast cancer plays a pivotal role in the growth and progression of the triple negative form of the disease, a particularly deadly strain that often has few treatment options.
  • A gene known to regulate the immune system and the cellular stress response has been implicated in the growth and progression of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), a highly aggressive malignancy with limited treatment options.
  • The gene, called (I kid you not!) X Box Protein One (XBP1), helps TNBC tumors activate a crucial metabolic pathway.
  • This pathway is called HIF1α, after the hypoxia-inducing factor. By accessing the HIF1α pathway, cells can better tolerate adverse conditions such as oxygen and nutrient deprivation.
  • TNBC tumors risk being starved of oxygen and nutrients because they are poorly vascularized. However, by co-opting the HIF1α pathway, TNBC tumors may improve their odds of survival. They may even acquire the ability to outlast adverse conditions and resurge. That is, they may account for the ability of TNBC return after the end of treatment.
  • If TNBC tumors could be prevented from accessing the HIF1α pathway, they might more easily succumb to treatment.
  • Researchers examined several types of breast cancer cell lines abd found that XBP1 was particularly active in basal-like breast cancer cells cultivated in the lab and in TNBC cells from patients.
  • When the researchers suppressed the activity of the gene in laboratory cell cultures and animal models, they were able to dramatically reduce the size of tumors and the likelihood of relapse, especially when these approaches were used in conjunction with the chemotherapy drugs doxorubicin or paclitexel.
  • The scientists also found that interactions between XBP1 and HIF1α spurs cancer-driving proteins.
  • Silencing XBP1 in the TNBC cell lines reduced the tumor cells’ growth and other behaviors typical of metastasis.
  • “We have uncovered a key function of XBP1 in the tumorigenicity, progression and recurrence of TNBC, and have identified XBP1’s control of the HIF1α transcriptional program as the major mechanism. XBP1 pathway activation correlates with poor patient survival in TNBC patients, indicating that [unfolded protein] inhibitors in combination with standard chemotherapy may improve the effectiveness of antitumor therapies.”

For more information: XBP1 promotes triple-negative breast cancer by controlling the HIF1α pathway, Nature (2014) doi:10.1038/nature13119

7.  Researchers discover key mechanisms to inhibit triple negative breast cancers

  • A team of researchers from the Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve School of Medicine have identified critical complex mechanisms involved in the metastasis of deadly ”triple negative” breast cancers (TNBC).
  • ”A key component in the deadly metastatic potential of TNBC tumors is that they spread through tissues outside the breast very quickly. The two proteins that we studied, WAVE3 and TGF-ß, when together, promote tumor aggressiveness.”
  • The next step in the research process is to find a way to deliver inhibitors to the tumor.  Using nanoparticles, the Sossey-Alaoui, Schiemann team hope to deliver therapies directly to the site of the tumor and reverse the disease. Their goal is to move this basic research into clinical trials in the next three years.

For more information:  Breast Cancer Research and TreatmentNovember 2013Volume 142Issue 2pp 341-353, Upregulated WAVE3 expression is essential for TGF-β-mediated EMT and metastasis of triple-negative breast cancer cells

8.  Breast Cancer Drug Shrinks Mesothelioma Tumors in Mice

  • Aromasin, a drug used to fight breast cancer may offer a new way to treat the intractable lung-related cancer, malignant pleural mesothelioma.
  • Aromasin is designed to block the enzyme aromatase, which is critical for the synthesis of estrogen. For cancers that are sensitive to estrogen, such a breast cancer, reducing the amount of the hormone in the body by inhibiting aromatase has been shown to curb cancer growth.
  • Based on recent evidence that aromatase may also play a role in malignant mesothelioma, Italian scientists tested the aromatase inhibitor Aromasin on mesothelioma cells in the lab and in live mice.
  • In their discussion of the findings, Nuvoli and her team note that Aromasin appears to work in part by inhibiting CD44, a cell surface glycoprotein involved in cell migration.
  • Most importantly, according to the researchers, mice infected with human mesothelioma cells experienced “a significant decrease in tumor size” when they were treated with a combination of the standard mesothelioma drug pemetrexed (Alimta) and Aromasin.
  • The combination proved to be even more effective than the most common mesothelioma chemotherapy combination, Alimta and cisplatin.
  • In fact, according to the team’s published report in Molecular Cancer the Alimta/Aromasin combination was so effective at shrinking mesothelioma tumors in mice that researchers could not obtain a large enough tumor sample to determine exactly how the treatment worked.
  • They conclude that Aromasin might be a promising new agent for mesothelioma treatment and suggest the need for clinical trials. Because Aromasin has already been FDA approved for breast cancer, the researchers say they are hopeful that clinical trials in mesothelioma could happen quickly.

For more information:  Nuvoli, B et al, “Exemestane blocks mesothelioma growth through downregulation of cAMP, pCREB and CD44 implicating new treatment option in patients affected by this disease”, March 21, 2014, Molecular Cancer


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