Novel Breast Cancer Treatment via Lab-Grown Breast Tissue
Breast cancer, one of the leading cancers in women – just this year, over 1.7 million women around the world were diagnosed with breast cancer. Despite global efforts and progression in research and treatment, many cases of breast cancer have proved aggressive (difficult to treat) or not fully understood. Aggressive cancers are thought to be a result of breakdown in the normal regeneration of breast tissue over time, including during puberty, menstruation and pregnancy.
The mammary glands are complex structures, consisting of branched hollow ducts connected to pouches that later produce milk, and the nipple on the other end. These branched ducts are cushioned between fatty and connective tissue. A recent publication in Development journal highlighted the remarkable study in which scientists were able to culture breast tissue in vitro (lab conditions) in order to gain a further understanding in breast cancer and potentially create novel targeted treatments.
How the Breast Tissue was Cultured
Donated human breast tissue could hold the key in unlocking newer, innovative and targeted treatments for breast cancer. Scientists at Helmholtz Center for Health and Environmental Research in Munich have successfully cultured in a lab mammary gland tissue from donated stem cells, they have even created milk-feeding ducts and milk-producing structures of the breast. The donated cells (from breast-reduction surgeries) were placed in a petri dish containing collagen fiber gels (connective tissue); the cells act similarly to breast tissue in puberty – cell division and growth, followed by accumulation.
Lab-Grown Breast Tissue will Benefit Future Breast Cancer Treatment
Dr. Scheel, leading the research explains: “[During puberty,] the normal breast tissue grows [aggressively] into the surrounding connective tissue,” says Scheel. “The cells push forward into the surrounding tissue almost like an invasive tumor but in a very controlled process.”
By studying the normal mechanisms of breast tissue regeneration at a cellular level, including how the breast tissue transforms and regenerates from puberty to adulthood, including the formation of milk ducts, scientists can further understand the mechanisms in which cancer strikes when this regeneration occurs. Cancer usually occurs when there is a breakdown in these regulated mechanisms.
The scientists were able to manipulate the collagen gel to simulate normal cellular regeneration of breast tissue (within a flexible gel platform) and conversely mimic cancerous tissue development by introducing a rigid gel platform. They discovered that cells within a rigid collagen gel were seeded (spread), mimicking cancerous tissue that is associated with stiff connective tissue and invasive cellular growth. Women with dense connective tissue tend to be at a higher risk of developing breast cancer, although dense connective tissue occurs during normal breast development.
Herzliya Medical Center is the leading hospital in oncology. Featuring innovative breast cancer treatments and renowned oncologists. Get in touch with HMC if you have deducted any unusual changes with your breasts or for a general check-up. Early detection is vital to a successful treatment. We are dedicated in providing the latest treatment strategies aimed for full restoration of your health and wellbeing.