January 24, 2018 |
Hormonal Treatment for Endometrial Cancer that Works Through Surrounding Cells not Targeting Them
June 12, 2013  | 

Findings Will Change the Way Clinicians View Endometrial Tumors


Los Angeles, CA - Progesterone, a female hormone that can be used as a therapy for endometrial cancer, eliminates tumor cells indirectly by binding to its receptor in stromal or connective tissue cells residing in the tumor microenvironment, according to a study from the G.O. Discovery Lab team and collaborators at UCLA.

Like tumors of the breast and prostate, endometrial cancer is regulated by hormones. Unlike therapies for breast and prostate cancer, where drugs are given to block hormone signaling, in therapy for endometrial cancer progesterone is given to stimulate its hormone receptor. Although it has been used for several decades, no one really knew the mechanisms and site of action for progesterone therapy.

Doctors know that a certain subsets of patients will benefit from treatment with progesterone. However, doctors prescribing the hormone therapy are shooting in the dark because they don’t know in advance which patients will respond and which women may have resistant tumors, said study senior author Dr. Sanaz Memarzadeh, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology and director of the G.O. Discovery Lab at UCLA.  Therefore, while progesterone can be effective as a therapy in endometrial cancer, its use is not widely embraced in clinical practice.

“When viewing tumors under the microscope clinicians often focus on the cancer cells and neglect the supporting stroma in the microenvironment. In this study we found that all of the progesterone anti-tumor effects are in fact mediated through the stroma even though it makes up a minor fraction of the tumor,” said Memarzadeh, who also is a researcher at the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research and UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. “I believe these exciting findings are going to surprise the clinical community and change the way people look at patterns of hormone receptor expression in endometrial tumors.” Continue>

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