Breast Cancer UK has awarded a grant to Dr Elisabete Silva at Brunel University to support research which examines the effects of low dose endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC) mixtures on breast morphology and carcinogenesis, using an in vitro 3D breast cell culture system.
Oestrogen responsive breast epithelial cells will be grown on a reconstituted basement membrane matrix, enabling cells to grow in three dimensions. This system can reproduce features of malignant changes which can be observed microscopically. Changes in gene expression and gene methylation patterns will be assessed using molecular biology techniques. The cell culture system uses non-cancerous breast cells which express oestrogen receptors and are responsive to oestrogen and oestrogen mimics.
The EDC mixtures include bisphenol A (BPA), the (banned) pesticide DDT, the preservative propylparaben and the UV filter, benzophenone-3. All of these have been detected in human breast tissue, can act as oestrogen mimics, and, with the exception of DDT (which is now banned in Europe although still used elsewhere in the world), are used in numerous everyday products.
The use of oestrogen responsive breast cells grown in 3D is an original and potentially effective means to test oestrogenicity of environmentally relevant concentrations of EDC mixtures. In addition, this type of research is a good example of an alternative method of testing EDCs which does not involve animal experimentation. As such, we are very proud to be supporting such an approach in scientific testing. The results of this research will demonstrate whether the EDCs tested in combination are able to induce changes in breast cells that are characteristic of cancer.
The work will begin January 2016 and is expected to last around a year.
Dr Sibylle Ermler, Dr Hemad Yasaei and Professor Martin Widschwendter will also be involved in the project