Rice University scientist available to discuss recent breast-cancer discovery

EXPERT ALERT

Mike Williams
713-348-6728
mikewilliams@rice.edu

Rice University scientist available to discuss recent breast-cancer discovery

HOUSTON – (Sept. 19, 2013) – As National Breast Cancer Awareness Month approaches, José Onuchic, a biological physicist at Rice University, is available to discuss his recent success in identifying two proteins that play a role in the development of the disease.

Onuchic and his colleagues at the Rice-based Center for Theoretical Biological Physics set out to pinpoint the reason women who take a particular drug, thiazolidinedione, to treat Type II diabetes show a statistically lower incidence of breast cancer.

In a recent paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the researchers identified two proteins called NEETs as prime suspects in the proliferation of breast cancer; their findings offer a possible path for the development of drugs to slow or stop its progress in patients.

“It’s a very new story we’re telling about these two proteins, which we’re now bringing to prime time,” Onuchic said.

“NEET proteins play a key role in the overall stress response of cells,” he said. “Any time you stress a system, these proteins are there to help, but in cases where cells are overcome by stress, NEETs can become highly overexpressed.

“That’s what drew our initial interest in a potential connection to cancer,” Onuchic said. “We found the NEETs were highly overexpressed in breast cancer cells. Moreover, we found a direct correlation between NEET protein levels and the overall progression of the disease.”

Onuchic, Rice’s Harry C. and Olga K. Wiess Professor of Physics and Astronomy, is a pioneer in the theory of energy landscapes, which describes the energies at play in protein folding and other molecular-level interactions. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

To schedule an interview with Onuchic or for information, contact Mike Williams at mikewilliams@rice.edu or 713-348-6728.

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Download a high-resolution portrait of José Onuchic here:

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://news.rice.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Jose_Onuchic-web.jpg

Related materials:

José Onuchic: https://ctbp.ucsd.edu/affiliates/showperson.php?id=187

Center for Theoretical Biological Physics: http://ctbp.rice.edu

Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,708 undergraduates and 2,374 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice has been ranked No. 1 for best quality of life multiple times by the Princeton Review and No. 2 for “best value” among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go to http://tinyurl.com/AboutRiceU.

 

About Mike Williams

Mike Williams is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.