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Investigating the effects of low-dose mixtures of EDCs on breast cancer initiation

Funding body

Breast Cancer UK


Investigator(s)

Principal investigator: Elisabete Silva
Co-investigator: Sibylle Ermler
Co-investigator: Hemad Yasaei
Co-investigator: Martin Widschwendter - University College London (UCL)
 

Project description

This project aims at examining the effects of low dose mixtures of endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC) on breast morphology and carcinogenesis, using an in vitro 3D breast cell culture system.

The work involves growing non-cancerous oestrogen-responsive breast epithelial cells in a basement membrane matrix in three dimensions (3D). This system can reproduce features of malignant changes which will be captured microscopically. Alterations in gene expression and gene methylation patterns will also be assessed in order to investigate genetic and epigenetic effects.

The EDC mixtures include bisphenol A (BPA), the 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 effective way to test the oestrogenicity and potential carcinogenicity of environmentally relevant EDC mixtures. In addition, this type of research is a good example of an alternative method of testing chemicals which does not involve animal experimentation. The results of this research will demonstrate whether EDCs in combination are able to induce changes in breast cells that are characteristic of cancer.