Donato F. Romagnolo, PhD, professor of nutritional sciences and cancer biology, and Ornella I. Selmin, PhD, associate research professor of nutritional sciences, are leading a team of researchers who are investigating how genistein, a component of soy foods, might suppress the development of breast cancer. They’ve found that a particular gene, BRCA1, when functioning properly, keeps DNA stable and protects against genetic diseases like cancer. However, if that gene becomes damaged and is “silenced”, then it is unable to do its job of suppressing tumors.
Genistein comes into play by protecting BRCA1, and when used as a therapeutic treatment can even unsilence an abnormally functioning BRCA1 allowing it to resume its role preventing tumors. Fellow BIO5 member Tom Doetschman, PhD, is a collaborator on the team, providing expertise with genetic models.