Well, I think one of the reasons that Dr. Henschke recommended that you speak to me for this topic is that for the past 15 years I have been studying the role of the estrogen receptor in lung cancer, and my lab, and now many others, have shown that there is an additional type of estrogen receptor which we are now calling estrogen receptor beta or B, and the type of estrogen receptor that’s most expressed in breast tumors is now being called estrogen receptor alpha or ERA, and it’s this ERB that we are seeing in lung tumors that we think is mediating growth and progression of the tumor through estrogen.
Wow, that is fascinating. So in the most layman terms possible, because we try to boil everything down to the lay woman so it’s easy for everyone to understand…
Dr. Jill Siegfried:
Explain what you are doing with your studying and give us kind of an overview on what you have discovered, more so than that you just share it with me?
Dr. Jill Siegfried:
Well, for a long time there was data out there that suggested that women that never smoked were making up the large majority of the lung cancer patients who were diagnosed. In other words, if you look at how many men who never smoked are diagnosed with lung cancer compared to how many women who never smoked, it’s far, far in favor of the women.
So that said to me that there was some additional risk factor for lung cancer that might be selectively acting in women and I thought the most obvious thing was to look at hormones like estrogen. So, we started to look at estrogen receptors in lung tumors and we were having a very hard time finding any because we were looking for, what’s now called, the estrogen receptor alpha, which was already known and very well studied in breast cancer.
And then, in about 1995, a new form of the estrogen receptor was discovered by a group in Sweden called ERB or ER-Beta, and it’s a different protein made from a different gene, but it has many, many of the same activities as the ER we already knew about.