It is estimated about 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. In 2016, The U.S Breast Cancer foundation says 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 61,000 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.
For decades researchers have been doing aggressive research in every field looking for ways to cure the incredible women who are diagnosed with this disease every year.
Genetic research has enabled scientists to classify breast cancer into subtypes, which respond differently to various kinds of treatment. These subtypes are categorized according to the presence or absence of three receptors that are known to promote breast cancer: estrogen, progesterone, and the epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2).
The treatments for each subtypes is different.
Breast cancers that test positively for HER2 typically respond well to treatment and even to some specific drugs. However, there are types of cancer that test negatively for HER2, as well as for estrogen and progesterone – this is called triple-negative breast cancer.
As some studies have shown, triple-negative cancer is more difficult to treat, with chemotherapy being the only option.
New research, from the Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany, tested the effects of a spicy molecule on cultivated tumor cells of this particularly aggressive cancer type
Capsaicin, which is commonly found in Chili Peppers, have been tested by the team on SUM149PT cell culture, which is a model for triple-negative breast cancer.
Existing research suggests that several transient receptor potential (TRP) channels influence cancer cell growth. These TRP channels are membranous ion channels that conduct calcium and sodium ions, and which can be influenced by several stimuli including temperature or pH changes.
One of the TRP channels that play a significant role in the development of several diseases is the olfactory receptor TRPV1.
In the past, it has been found that capsaicin can induce cell death and inhibit cancer cell growth in several types of cancer, including colon and pancreatic cancer.
For this new study, the researchers aimed to investigate the expression of TRP channels in a vast amount of breast cancer tissue, as well as to analyze and understand how TRPV1 could be used in breast cancer therapy.
Researchers added capsaicin and helional to the culture for several hours or days. This activated the TRPV1 receptor in the cell culture.
As a result of TRPV1 being activated, the cancer cells died more slowly. Additionally, tumor cells died in larger numbers, and the remaining ones were not able to move as quickly as before. This suggests that their ability to metastasize was reduced.