MTSU researching potential cure for breast cancer - WSMV News 4

MTSU researching potential cure for breast cancer

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The fight against breast cancer is taking place in the heart of Middle Tennessee State University’s campus.

Studies show one out of eight women will develop breast cancer in their life. Inside the lab in the Tennessee Center for Botanical Medicine Research, there is hope.

Dr. Iris Gao, an associate professor at MTSU, is leading the research against metastatic breast cancer.

“It is when the malignant tumor spreads from the breast to the other organs, often like lungs, liver, brain and bones,” Gao said of metastatic breast cancer. “At this stage, the death rate is 90 percent.”

Gao and graduate students in the lab perform daily research of a compound called DMDD. It comes from the root of the tropical star fruit tree found in Southeast Asia.

Studies show DMDD has potential to be an effective and safe therapeutic treatment option with few side effects.

“It is effective in shrinking the primary breast tumor, and it most importantly, prohibits the spread of the breast tumor to the lung and the liver,” Gao said.

Of all the women who get cancer, 30 percent are diagnosed with breast cancer. It also remains the leading fatal disease for women.

This research is a collaboration between Gao and Guangxi Medical University in China.

Gao believes there are many treatment options from natural medicines.

“It is not new to use natural compounds,” Gao explained. “Actually, according to (the) FDA, 25 percent of prescribed drugs originate from plants.”

Gao said this research will take time, and it could be several years before we know whether it will work.

But she said they are determined to find a breakthrough that could one day lead to a cure for breast cancer.

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