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Researchers from the Jefferson Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University have reportedly found that a pituitary hormone called prolactin, normally responsible for breast development and milk production, also blocks an oncogene called BCL6, which makes breast cancer more aggressive.
They feel that the discovery may lead to more effective diagnostic tests for breast cancer and innovative treatments for the disease, Health Day News reports.
Typically, prolactin's role in breast cancer development is carried out by a protein pathway called Stat5, whose activation is related to poorly differentiated breast cancer, the researchers report.
"We found that prolactin will block expression of the BCL6 protein and showed that Stat5a is involved in this process as a mediator of prolactin," said Hallgeir Rui, professor of cancer biology at the college.
"We think that prolactin plays an important role in preventing aggressive breast cancers and that there is a connection between the loss of Stat5 and the increase of BCL6 in making breast cancer more aggressive," he added.
The study was published in the February 2 online issue of Cancer Research.
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