What Does the ‘Love Hormone’ Have to Do With Cancer?

Researchers at The Graduate Center are making important discoveries that may lead to improved detection and treatment of some of the most prevalent and lethal cancers.

Three of those researchers — Ph.D. students Trisheena Harricharran (Biochemistry) and Michelle Naidoo (Biology) and Professor Jill Bargonetti (GC/Hunter, Biology and Biochemistry) — will present their findings at the Temple University Fox Chase Cancer Center and Hunter College Cancer Health Disparity Partnership on July 27 at Hunter College.

Pancreatic cancer is usually diagnosed after the disease has metastasized throughout the body and is too widespread to treat. But a new study by Harricharran shows that oxytocin, the “love hormone,” may be able to play a role as a biomarker for pancreatic cancer. “What this means is that through this new technique for earlier detection, potential therapeutic treatments for pancreatic cancer patients can be successful,” says Harricharran.

Oxytocin, the hormone that promotes bonding, may help detect pancretic cancer, according to a study by GC Ph.D. student Trisheena Harricharran.

One in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, and men of African descent are 2.3 times more likely to die from the disease, according to the Prostate Cancer Foundation. In a recent study, Naidoo used prostate cancer tissue obtained from black males in Ibadan, Nigeria, to demonstrate the potential of microRNA-1205 as a tumor suppressor in prostate cancer. She hopes that one day these findings can lead to a novel therapeutic for aggressive prostate cancer and improve survival outcomes for prostate cancer patients with limited treatment options.

Bargonetti’s research, funded by the Breast Cancer Research Foundation could provide needed insight into treating breast cancer.

“Breast cancer currently is the second-most common cancer among U.S. females, especially among African American women, who are more likely than white women to be diagnosed at later stages in life, and they are 40 percent more likely to die from breast cancer after their initial diagnosis,” Bargonetti says. “We identified multiple novel pathways that have diagnostic and therapeutic implications for breast tumors and circulating tumor cells (liquid biopsy), and we are determining ways to identify and kill oncogenically activated cancer cells, which could lead to personalized therapeutic strategies."

Learn more about the conference here.

Submitted on: JUL 24, 2018

Category: Biochemistry | Biology | Faculty | General GC News | Student News