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Cholesterol Linked to Aggressive Cancers

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The discovery that fats – including cholesterol – could increase the progression of a range of aggressive cancers could lead to new treatment strategies and targets.

“Our previous research showed a high-cholesterol diet increased the spread of prostate cancer tumours to lymph nodes, lungs and bones,” said study leader A/Prof Michelle Hill of The University of Queensland’s Diamantina Institute. “The new study has extended the results to melanoma, breast, ovarian and kidney cancers by analysing published data sets.”

Cholesterol and other fats are essential components of cell membranes, and play a role in regulating processes such as cell migration and division. “Cholesterol makes specialised membrane regions which are important regulators of cell function, and our laboratory has been investigating how these membrane regions increase cancer progression,” Hill said.

“By comparing data published by other research groups using melanoma, breast and kidney cancer models, we were able to identify common mechanisms associated with increased cancer progression. Interestingly, the amount of cytoskeleton proteins at the cholesterol membranes are elevated in more aggressive cancers in all models.” The cytoskeleton is a network of fibres connecting parts of the cell, so it is important for the cell’s structural integrity.

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The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.