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New research finds EZH2 protein promotes breast cancer

Researchers reported in the scientific journal Cancer Cell that a protein called EZH2 is linked to breast cancer tumor growth, according to Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News.

In cells where EZH2 was overproduced, breast cancer progressed faster. A link between the two factors seemed to be due to EZH2's effect on cancer stem cells.

“Overexpression of the EZH2 protein has been linked to breast cancer progression, but the molecular details of that connection were unknown. Tumor-initiating cancer cells that arise from the primary cancer stem cells also are thought to drive cancer progression. This research connects EZH2 to the growth of breast tumor-initiating cells," Dr. Mien-Chie Hung, chair of the department of molecular and cellular oncology at MD Anderson, told the news source.

Dr. Hung’s team went one step further and tested the effects of five drugs on the EZH2-cancer stem cell phenomenon, with positive results.

“The drugs’ inhibition of the breast tumor-initiating cells reveals a previously unidentified therapeutic effect for RAF1-ERK inhibitors to prevent breast cancer progression,” said Dr. Hung.

Breast cancer affects one out of eight women in the United States and most industrialized countries, according to the American Cancer Society. February is Pink Zone month, sponsored by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association to promote breast cancer awareness.
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