- The AAMDC gene protects tumors from hormonal cancer treatments and prevents healing in patients.
- Lowering its level helps inhibit and kill cancer cells.
- AAMDC is also found in other cancers, such as ovarian, prostate and lung cancers.
Some patients suffer from a very aggressive form of breast cancer. Cancers with larger tumors and where metastases grow faster in the rest of the body. Their vital prognosis is terrible since half of them do not survive. A therapeutic hope has been identified by Australian researchers. In a scientific article published on March 26 in the journal Nature Communications, they show how the AAMDC hormone receptor plays a key role in allowing the tumor to survive in the body of these patients.
A surprising discovery
To identify this gene, the researchers first focused their research on part of a chromosome already known for its oncogenes, genes that can potentially cause cancer. They then turned to a subgroup of breast cancers, called IntClust2, whose tumors are characterized by a particularly fragile piece of DNA, located on chromosome 11. This subgroup presents very poor results in terms of life-threatening prognosis for the patients and ranks second last in this category among the 10 existing subgroups, each with its own genetic modifications and prognosis of evolution.
In chromosome 11, we find the AAMDC gene which interested the researchers. They analyzed 119 samples of this chromosome and observed that this gene is amplified in 25% of tumors. They then turned to mouse models to better understand the role of AAMDC. By lowering the levels of this gene in rodent breast cancers, they found that cancer cells are both inhibited and die more.
In addition, depriving mice of estrogen led to the triggering of a signal that causes tumor growth. This discovery came as a surprise to researchers in this type of so-called hormone-receptive estrogen-receptive breast cancer. Usually, when cancer cells are starved of estrogen, they tend to shrink. This allowed the researchers to understand that the AAMDC protein is able to reprogram the metabolism of cancer cells, activate their growth and make cells more adaptable even when estrogen is lacking.
A survival kit
This gene protects tumors from hormonal cancer treatments and prevents patients from healing. “AAMDC can protect cancer cells and maintain their growth in cases where the tumor does not receive a lot of nutrients and when it is deprived of estrogen which, in fact, would eliminate the majority of hormone-dependent cancers, precise Pilar Blancafort, epigenetics researcher at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, who participated in the study. This is why we believe that the function of AAMDC in the tumor is to act as a kind of survival kit, which allows tumors to adapt to the conditions and support their growth as well as the multiplication of cancer cells..”
In addition, AAMDC is found in other cancers, such as ovarian, prostate or lung cancers. The discovery of its role makes it possible to imagine therapeutic options for these different cancers. “VSWhat is important is that we can now find these cancers by looking at the levels of AAMDC in cancer cells.”, Adds the researcher.
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