Strange Link Between Eye Disease and Bladder Cancer

TERE1 protein linked to rare eye disease also involved in bladder cancer

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) A disease affecting one part of your body may be playing a completely different role in another part.  A new study has identified a protein associated with a rare eye disease as a way to battle invasive bladder cancer.

Researchers at the LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans have discovered that the protein TERE1, which is involved in a rare eye disease called Schnyder's corneal dystrophy, affects the growth of invasive bladder cancer.

Low levels of TERE1 are found in advanced bladder cancer. This discovery may pave the way to new treatments.

"Speak with your oncologist about new therapies for bladder cancer."

Bladder cancer is the fourth leading non-skin cancer diagnosed in men. Advanced bladder cancer is difficult to treat, with an overall five-year survival rate of less than 50 percent.

TERE1 is associated with a cholesterol carrier protein. A mutation in TERE1 leads to Schnyder's corneal dystrophy, which results from excess cholesterol, lipids and fats collecting around the cornea. The disease eventually leads to vision loss.

High levels of cholesterol in the blood have been linked to increased risk of development and growth of breast, liver, head and neck, colon and melanoma cancers.

Earlier research by lead author, Dr. Jayne S. Weiss, professor and chair of Ophthalmology at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans, found the link between TERE1 and prostate cancer.

After identifying this link, the next step was to determine TERE1's role in lipid metabolism. Dr. Weiss and her researchers also focused on the role of TERE1 in the development of invasive bladder cancer. They discovered that TERE1 inhibits bladder cancer development.

When scientists tested proteins involved in cell stress, cell growth and cholesterol management in human cancer cells in mice models, they discovered the level of TERE1 was reduced. Adding TERE1 prevented tumor growth.

For researchers, this study shows that unrelated diseases can play a factor in developing new treatments. If one disease is based on a protein mutation that alters cholesterol levels in the cell, that protein may be involved in other diseases where cholesterol levels are a factor.  

This study was published in the November edition of DNA and Cell Biology.

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Review Date: 
November 5, 2011
Last Updated:
November 9, 2011