BEAVERCREEK — Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Dr. Julian Gomez-Cambronero has published a study in the leading journal “Oncogene” on the fight against breast cancer.
This work indicates that a new gene called “pld” plays a crucial role in promoting breast cancer growth and formation of lung metastasis.
Dr. Cambronero of Beavercreek and his team found that when the human gene pld is abnormally activated, it leads to the appearance of breast cancer tumors and an early appearance of malignant colonies in the lung.
In the laboratory, the investigators eliminated the pld gene from human cancer cells and then transplanted them into mice, which led to a delayed appearance of tumors. The tumors were small in size and lung metastases were fewer in number.
Dedicated to the research in this field, Dr. Cambronero has found that science is his true passion.
“Ever since I was a young boy in Spain, I knew that science was my calling,” he said. “After getting my Ph.D., I was able to further my postdoctoral training in the US at the University of Connecticut Health Center, and later I formed my own research team at WSU. I greatly appreciate the many opportunities I’ve been given.”
He added, “My team and I have been interested for many years in the molecular mechanisms that govern leukocyte motility and how those cells arrive to an infection site. I thought that similar mechanisms could apply to the process of metastasis of cancer cells, and in the lab I was able to prove that such hypothesis was correct.
It also attracted me the realization that the battle against cancer has not yet been won and one can still do research and contribute to this field. It is also very important for me to know that one can contribute in some small way to perhaps one day palliate the suffering of people from this terrible disease.”
Dr. Cambronero found in his research that two new experimental chemical inhibitors of the protein pld were able to reduce the size of tumors by about 70 percent.
According to these results, this gene can be viewed as having a “bad” consequence for the organism when altered and eliminating it turns out to be a “protective” measure for the body.
The mechanism by which the protein could have a tumorigenic (tumor-related) activity is because it enhances the move-ability of cancer cells, making them more invasive and metastatic, and more prone to migrate to new tissues.
According to the doctor, cells use intricate mechanisms that govern their movement inside the body. Some cancer cells shed off the tumors and reach nearby capillary or lymph vessels. They metastasize to locations further removed from the primary tumors, which becomes very problematic in the progression of the disease. This is why it becomes important to find inhibitors of cancer cell migration.
The present study by Dr. Cambronero’s team provides the necessary pre-clinical data needed for a possible future application to studies in humans. Nearly all pharmaceutical studies begin with this first step. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the AHA and other funding agencies have funded his group for the last 17 years since arriving to Wright State University, for a total of $6 million.
When asked how he thinks this research will be a building block for other research in helping cure cancer the doctor said, “Our research allowed us to gain crucial preclinical knowledge on the importance of the activation or elimination of a gene and its protein in a living organism. It also established the use of a under the skin delivery method of new experimental inhibitors, which needs to be shown it could work in humans.
The research also allowed us to get the first glimpse at the work of new inhibitors. It is necessary to test experimental models in preclinical studies before getting to human tissues, which will be the next logical step.”
The doctor explains that the key component in being able to further develop this kind of research is as always funding.
“Funding is always a major component needed to proceed further in this kind of research,” Dr. Cambronero said. “The National Institutes of Health, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, and other agencies and philanthropic societies are doing a tremendously important job in making sure research is being conducted and that new breakthrough can translate to patients, leading to better treatments.”
The doctor and his team have found a new gene, that when altered, can spell trouble (breast cancer) in the body and lead to malignancy and high metastasis in the lung, along with two new inhibitors that can deter this in experimental models through their work right here in Greene County.
“Wright State University has strong graduate, bio-engineering and medical programs and is competitive with other universities in Ohio,” said the doctor about working at WSU. “It is a young university, and surely there is room to grow. The important point here is that with knowledge, dedication and hard work you can achieve your goals. Our team, and others at WSU, has been successful at publishing in leading biomedical journals and attracting extramural funding.”
Dr. Cambronero recognizes the fact that the research team and co-authors are key in this discovery.
“I want to thank my research team and my co-authors, Karen Henkels and Drs. Steve Berberich, Gregory Boivin and Emily Dudley, because true advances are made through a collaborative process. We are very excited to be receiving such great feedback from other scientists and news outlets. Thanks to local publications like yours, our work will be shared in our communities, and that is much appreciated,” he said.
For more information on Dr. Julian G. Cambronero research activities visit his lab webpage at www.med.wright.edu/bmb/jgc. Dr. Cambronero is a resident of Beavercreek, where he has been living with his family, wife Teresa and children David and Julia for 17 years.