ECE: Electrical & Computer Engineering
ECE News

New study to examine high fat risks

The family history factor in breast cancer

ECE researchers are studying how breast cancer can be passed through generations without genetic mutations. Read about their research in the 2012 Annual Report.

Mathematical modeling to fight breast cancer

Read about how an ECE team is fighting cancer with mathematical modeling in the 2012 Annual Report.

It’s possible that one woman’s high fat diet during pregnancy can increase the risk of breast cancer for several generations. ECE associate professor Jason Xuan and ECE professor Yue ( Joseph) Wang will be researching this possibility as part of a collaboration led by Georgetown University. The project is funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH). Virginia Tech’s share is $400,000 over four years.

A high-fat diet during pregnancy increases ethinyl estradiol (EE2) levels, which has been linked to increased risk of breast cancer in daughters, grand-daughters and great-granddaughters. This study investigates the risk of breast cancer in mice for four generations following the exposure of the original female to a high-fat diet.

The team will also test their hypothesis that this increased risk of breast cancer is caused by changes in DNA methylation. This is a normal part of DNA development, but changes in this process could have an impact that persists for generations.