Obesity and Breast Cancer Research

There is increasing evidence that cancer cells cannot develop into a lethal tumor without the cooperation of neighboring cells. While many cell types have been studied in their role in breast cancer growth, little is known about the contribution of fat cells that are abundant in the breast tissue. San Diego BioMed’s Dr. Fahumiya Samad, in collaboration with Dr. Barbara Mueller, are focusing on the role of fat cells in breast cancer, concentrating on patients who are overweight or obese. Obesity increases the risk for several cancer subtypes and is associated with increased metastasis, mortality, and resistance to chemotherapy.

The Samad group has found evidence of the following: 1) tumors grow faster when they are in the presence of fat cells, 2) a number of proteins associated with tumor growth were found to be secreted by fat cells, and 3) fat cells release extracellular vesicles (EVs) which carry messages to neighboring cells and these EVs have the potential to increase tumor growth. These studies could help to identify novel biomarkers for early recognition of breast cancer in overweight or obese patients, reducing their risk for developing breast cancer. These studies could also lead to the development of novel therapies for those who are already diagnosed.

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Our research programs are funded primarily by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Private donations help to accelerate the progress of research through the purchase of laboratory supplies and equipment or the recruitment of additional laboratory personnel. Thank you!

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