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Vitamin A compounds may suppress breast cancer (5/18/98)

Investigators at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio presented some exciting findings at the 34th annual meeting of the American Society for Clinical Oncology, held in Los Angeles the third weekend in May.

Powel H. Brown, MD, PhD, assistant professor, and Caesar K. Tin-U, MD, fellow, and their colleagues in medical oncology in the department of medicine at the Health Science Center, in collaboration with investigators at Ligand Pharmaceuticals, are studying the effects of vitamin A-related compounds on the growth of normal and malignant breast cells. These investigators have demonstrated that naturally occurring, as well as receptor-selective synthetic retinoids, inhibit the growth of both normal and malignant breast cells by interfering with the normal cell cycle.

"The receptor-selective retinoids appear to have less toxicity in animal studies, thus these agents may be more promising for the prevention of breast cancer in the future," says Dr. Brown.

"To investigate how retinoids suppress breast cancer cell growth," Dr. Tin-U says, "we examined the effects of several receptor-selective retinoids on the growth of both normal and malignant cells, and found that retinoids selective for either the RAR or RXR receptors are capable of inhibiting breast cell growth."

The researchers then studied the effects of retinoid treatment on the cell cycle and discovered that the retinoids directly suppressed breast cell proliferation by blocking the cell cycle.

"With these results, we will now test whether the selective retinoids prevent the development of breast cancer in animals," Dr. Tin-U says. "If they do, they would be promising agents for the prevention of human breast cancer."

Contact: Jan Elkins (210) 567-2570