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CALCIUM AND BREAST CANCER

CALCIUM’S ROLE IN BREAST CANCER MAY BE EXPLAINED BY A CELLULAR PUMP, ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS

Cells are always moving things in and out, most often using proteins that act as pumps.  Now a surprise discovery by Rajini Rao and colleagues at Johns Hopkins has implicated such a protein in the pathogenesis of breast cancer.

RAO: We discovered an unusual moonlighting function of a calcium pump that has implications for its role in breast cancer.  We would normally expect this pump to be sequestering the calcium in the cell, so putting it away into stores.  Instead we discovered that it had a second contradictory role in that it was also bringing in huge amounts of calcium into the cell. And this extra calcium that was coming in was causing these cells to proliferate out of control and contributing to the cancer growth.  :34

Rao says finding a way to interrupt this counter pumping mechanism is a logical target for stopping breast cancer cells from growing.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.


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