Berkeley Lab Currents

March 8, 1996


Cancer-fighting compounds giving up secrets of how they work

By Lynn Yarris

Chemical compounds found in vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower, along with a number of Asian herbs, show promise for stopping the spread of breast cancer. A Berkeley Lab scientist is now testing a theory as to how these compounds work.

Many of the different forms of breast cancer tumors, including those that spread the fastest, depend upon the hormone estrogen for growth and development. Tests have shown that naturally-occurring antiestrogen compounds can be effective treatments. These antiestrogens are quite varied in chemical structure and may act through a cellular receptor normally used to detect toxins in the cell. If the mechanism by which antiestrogens prevent cancer growth can be identified, it might be possible to synthesize safer and even more effective versions.

James Bartholomew, a biophysicist with the Structural Biology Division, working in collaboration with Leonard Bjeldanes of the UC Berkeley Department of Nutrition, is now in the process of examining approximately 100 antiestrogen compounds, many of which were imported from Asia, where successful herbal treatments of breast cancer have been reported. Bartholomew believes that the tumor-suppressing activity of the antiestrogens is controlled by a protein called AhR. This protein is a receptor inside the cell that binds with a drug, or some other type of introduced chemical, in order to metabolize it.

"Little attention has been focused on the possible mitigating role of widely occurring natural antiestrogens in breast cancer," says Bartholomew. "Certain indole derivatives, such as indolo carbazole (ICZ), which are produced from dietary vegetables and by bacterial metabolism in the gastrointestinal tract, show potent antiestrogenic activity in model systems and may be useful as cancer preventive agents."

Bartholomew and Bjeldanes are employing standard biochemical and immunological assays in combination with a series of special molecular biology techniques to assess the effects of AhR on the expression of estrogen-regulating genes that have been linked to breast tumor growth. AhR is known to bind to TCDD, the environmental toxin contained in Agent Orange, and experiments by Bjeldanes and others have shown that it also binds to ICZ.

"Our theory is that when AhR binds to ICZ or to TCDD, the effect is to suppress the growth of breast cancer tumors," Bartholomew says.

In the next round of experiments, he and Bjeldanes will work with a special set of cell lines that lack the AhR receptor. These cell lines, which were developed at Berkeley Lab for studies of the notorious breast carcinogen benzo[a]pyrene, will be used to study the role AhR plays in enabling ICZ to inhibit estrogen-dependent tumors.

"If we can identify the mechanism by which ICZ and other antiestrogen compounds suppress breast cancer tumors, we should be able to predict which of these compounds will work best," says Bartholomew. "An important element in this puzzle is undoubtedly the structure of these receptors when they have a bound chemical (called a ligand). It is probably this structural detail that determines whether the receptor-ligand complex controls one set of genes or another."

Another argument for understanding this mechanism is safety. Antiestrogens, like TCDD, induce the activity of P-450, a cytochrome in the liver that metabolizes chemicals into carcinogenic derivatives.

"You would not want to be a smoker and be on an antiestrogen therapy," says Bartholomew. "If you know the mechanism by which antiestrogens suppress tumors, it opens up the possibility that you can design a dietary regime which would inhibit the growth of new tumor cells without affecting the chemicals used to kill existing tumors."

CAPTION: Jim Bartholomew of the Structural Biology Division is studying antiestrogen compounds in search of a safe and effective treatment for breast cancer. Photo by Joe Moore


International Women's Month: Special lecture focuses on heart health

Trudy Forte, a senior staff scientist in the Life Sciences Division's Department of Molecular Medicine, will give a special talk next week in honor of International Women's Month. Her talk, "Women and the Healthy Heart: You Can Make the Difference," will be held at 12:10 p.m. on Thursday, March 14, in the Bldg. 50 auditorium. All employees are invited to attend; refreshments will be served at noon.

The talk will focus on factors that contribute to increased risk for heart disease and things that women can do to reduce risk for premature atherosclerosis. Forte's research focuses on the role of high density lipoproteins (HDL) in protection against premature cardiovascular disease.

Forte is a Fellow of the Arteriosclerosis Council of the American Heart Association; a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Society for Cell Biology, Northern California Electron Microscopy Society, and American Institute of Nutrition.

She is a member of a number of professional associations and groups, such as the Technical Advisory Group to the California State Office of Women's Health, and chair-elect of the Arteriosclerosis Council, AHA, and has received numerous awards. She also is the Laboratory Point of Contact for the DOE Review of Women's Programs.


Poster art puts Berkeley Lab on the local biotechnology map

Berkeley Lab is featured on the latest Biotech Bay promotional map, a fourth-edition poster produced by Synergistic Designs of San Francisco.

The Lab joins 50 other sponsors on the map, which is designed to highlight the Bay Area as the "birthplace of biotechnology." Synergistic Designs will use this artwork in on-going promotional efforts for the next two years. The map and its sponsors are also featured on Synergistic Design's web site "Biospace," accessible at Berkeley Lab's Technology Transfer Department coordinated the Lab's inclusion in this profile-raising effort.

CAPTION: Berkeley Lab Director Charles Shank and Life Sciences Division Director Mina Bissell (first and third from left) received framed copies of the new Biotech Bay promotional map from Technology Transfer Department Head Cheryl Fragiadakis and TTD's Bruce Davies.


Check out these new Berkeley Lab Web sites

The following is a small sampling of the latest World Wide Web sites to be created at Berkeley Lab; all are accessible through the Berkeley Lab home page.




Peter Schultz, a chemist with the Materials Sciences Division (MSD), has been named a co-winner of the 1996 California Scientist of the Year award by the Board of Directors of the California Museum of Science and Industry, and the Board of Trustees of the California Museum Foundation. Schultz and Dr. Richard Lerner of the Scripps Research Institute will be honored at a black-tie banquet in Beverly Hills on March 28. California Governor Pete Wilson and Mrs. Wilson will be honorary chairpersons that evening.

Shirley emeritized:

Former Berkeley Lab Director David Shirley has been granted the "Director, Emeritus" honorary title by University of California President Richard Atkinson. The distinction recognizes Shirley's "outstanding and dedicated service to the University and to the Laboratory," Atkinson wrote in the acknowledgment letter. "We are deeply grateful for the valuable and lasting contributions you have made as an administrator and scientist to the Laboratory, to the University, and indeed to the nation." Shirley, who served the Laboratory from 1980 to 1989, is currently senior vice president for research and graduate education at Penn State University. With his emeritus title comes his listing with other officers in UC's university-wide directory.

Free public lecture on science and religion:

UC Berkeley Nobel Laureate Charles Townes, inventor of the laser, will give a free public lecture entitled "Logic and Uncertainties in Science and Religion" at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 19, in Room 1 of LeConte Hall. The lecture is co-sponsored by the UC Physics Department and the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (CTNS). Townes will discuss the convergence and conflicts between science and religion as both attempt to describe our universe. A response to Townes will be given by CTNS founder Robert John Russell, who holds degrees in both physics and theology. For more information call Carol Dudley at 642-3317.

Gore promises to protect research:

Last week in a roundtable discussion with national media, Vice President Al Gore promised that the Clinton Administration will fight to "protect research from Congressional budget cuts." Following on the heels of the science-boosting speech he gave to AAAS (see Feb. 16 Newswire), prospects for federal R&D funding between 1997 and 2002 appear to be good. However, political insiders warn that Gore's promises should be taken with a grain of salt. The long-term outlook for science remains uncertain. Mounting pressure from politically powerful lobbyists to fund the needs of veterans, highway construction, and law enforcement is bound to take its toll on R&D programs. "Science is on the margins," one Senate democratic staffer told Science magazine. A Clinton insider said the FY97 request will likely include a 1- to 2-percent boost in overall civilian science and technology spending, which would be a slight decrease given inflation. Other officials caution that final decisions have yet to be made.


March 11-22

Calendar of Events at Berkeley Lab


The Berkeley Lab Calendar is published biweekly here on the World Wide Web and in Currents by the Public Information Department. Employees can list a meeting, class, or event in the Calendar by using this submission form. The deadline for submissions is 5 p.m. on Monday in the week that Currents is published.

In addition to the events listed below, Berkeley Lab's Washington, D.C. Projects office is hosting a Science and Technology Seminars series. 

Scientific Conferences




"Deterministic and Risk-Based Regulation" will be presented by Larry E. Fischer of LLNL at 3:30 p.m. in 3105 Etcheverry; refreshments, 3:15 p.m.


"Wiring the Brain--A Physicist Looks at Development" will be presented by Dr. Marla Feller of UCB at 4:30 p.m. in 1 Le Conte Hall; refreshments, 4 p.m., 375 Le Conte Hall.


"Mass Hierarchies and Anomalies: A Peek Behind the Planck Curtain" will be presented by Pierre Ramond of the University of Florida at 2:30 p.m. in 430 Birge Hall.



"Classical Geometry of Target Space Duality" will be presented by Orlando Alvarez of the University of Miami at 2:10 p.m. in 430 Birge Hall.


Gregory Aharonian, publisher of the Internet Patent News Service and a specialist in software patent analysis, will speak at 3:30 p.m. in Bldg. 90-3148.


"Cell Adhesion, Apoptosis and the Epithelial Phenotype" will be presented by Steven Frisch of the La Jolla Cancer Research Foundation at 4 p.m. in Bldg. 66-316.



Biohazards (Blood Safety/Medical Biohazards) (EHS 735), 10 a.m. - noon, Bldg. 51-201.

Introduction to EH&S Safety at LBNL (EHS 010), 1 - 3:30 p.m., Bldg. 51-201.


General meeting at noon in the lower cafeteria.



Fire Extinguisher Use (EHS 530), 10 - 11:30 a.m., Bldg. 48-109.


General meeting at noon in Bldg. 90-1099.

Building Energy Seminar

"Industrial Ecology at the National Laboratories" will be presented by Braden Allenby of LLNL at noon in Bldg. 90-3148.

International Women's Month SpeciaL Lecture

Trudy Forte of the Life Sciences Division will speak on "Women and the Healthy Heart: You Can Make the Difference " at 12:10 p.m. in the Bldg. 50 Auditorium; refreshments at noon.


"Applications of Surface Vibrational Spectroscopy to Wetting, Adhesion and Etching" will presented by Tom Ellis of the University of Montreal, Canada, at 1:30 p.m. in the Bldg. 66 Auditorium.


"The Role of Feedback and Dark Matter in the Evolution of Dwarf Galaxies" will be presented by Andrea Ferrara of Arcetri at 4 p.m. in 1 Le Conte Hall; refreshments, 3:30 p.m., 661 Campbell Hall.


"B Decays - A Case Study of High Sensitivity & High Precision Physics" will be presented by Ikaros Bigi of Notre Dame at 4 p.m. in Bldg. 50A-5132; refreshments, 3:40 p.m.


Open Calendar



7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., near Bldg. 77


"Testing Theories of Fermion Masses" will be presented by Stuart Raby of Ohio State University at 2:30 p.m. in 430 Birge Hall.


Laser Safety (EHS 280), 1:30 - 4 p.m., Bldg. 51-201.


"Atomic Coherence Effects In Quantum Optics: From Lasing Without Inversion to New Giant Index Materials" will be presented by Marlan Scully of Texas A&M University at 4:30 p.m. in 1 Le Conte Hall; refreshments, 4 p.m., 375 Le Conte Hall.



"Modular Invariance and Galois Action in Conformal Field Theory" will be presented by Daniel Altschuler of ETH, Zürich, at 2:10 p.m. in 430 Birge Hall.


"Diffractive Scattering at HERA" will be presented by Emanuela Barberis of UCSC at 4 p.m. in Bldg. 50A-5132; refreshments, 3:40 p.m.



Adult CPR (EHS 123), 9 a.m. - noon, Bldg. 48-109.

Radiation Protection - Fundamentals (EHS 400), 2:30 - 5 p.m., Bldg. 51-201.


Building Energy Seminar

"The Economics of Sustainable Systems" will be presented by Stuart Cowan of Sustainable Systems Design at noon in Bldg. 90-3148.


Radiation Protection - Lab Safety (EHS 432), 2 - 5 p.m., Bldg. 51-201.


"Electron Excitation from Bond Breaking in Silicon and Other Semiconductors" will presented by Dan Hanemann of the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, at 1:30 p.m. in the Bldg. 66 Auditorium.


"Effects of Young Companion Stars" will be presented by Andrea Ghez of UCLA at 4 p.m. in 1 Le Conte Hall; refreshments, 3:30 p.m., 661 Campbell Hall.


"Thermodynamics and Turbulence Theory" will be presented by Alexandre Chorin of LBNL/UCB at 4 p.m. in 3110 Etcheverry Hall; refreshments, 3:30 p.m.



"Beam Dynamics of Alternating-Phase-Focusing Linacs" will be presented by Wen-Hao Cheng of LBNL/UCB at 10:30 a.m. in the Bldg. 71 conference room.


Computing Zone

cc:Mail now accessible from home through Web

Laboratory employees who use cc:Mail now may access their e-mail accounts through the World Wide Web. If you have a World Wide Web browser on your home computer, this provides home access to your e-mail accounts.

Mark Rosenberg, Russ Montello, and David Batzloff of the Information and Computing Sciences Division set up this experimental service for the approximately 370 users of cc:Mail here. Through the Web, they can now retrieve their mail as well as send new messages and delete old ones.

To log onto your cc:Mail account through the Web, use the address When you have finished using cc:Mail, remember to log out before navigating elsewhere on the Web.


Dining Center -- March 4-8


In Memoriam -- Charles W. Tobias

Charles W. Tobias, recently retired senior staff scientist in the Materials Sciences Division and long-time chemical engineering faculty member at UC Berkeley, died on March 6. A profile of his life and work will appear in next week's issue of Currents.


Currents ONLINE

The full text of each edition of Currents is published on the Lab's home page on the World Wide Web. View it at http://www/ under "Research News and Publications." To set up your computer to access the World Wide Web, call the Mac and PC Support Group at X6858.


F l e a  M a r k e t

Flea Market ads may be sent via e-mail to [email protected], Fax to X6641, or Lab mail to Bldg. 65B. The deadline is 5 p.m. Friday.


'62 NOVA convertible, best offer. Mark, X6581

'85 ISUZU Trooper, 108K mi., a/c, p/s, 4WD, $3600. Bill, X4686, 601-1404

'85 NISSAN Sentra, 2-dr, 100K mi., AM/FM cass., a/c, 5-spd, new clutch & tires, exc. cond., 2nd owner, $2200. Javier, X5446, 843-9534

'86 VW GTI, sunrf, leather, sports pkg., new muffler, battery, smog & tires, $3800. 528-3575

'87 CHEVY Nova, a Toyota Corolla clone built in Fremont, blue, 4-dr, a/c, 5-spd, 108K mi., orig. owner, exc. cond., $2700. Michael, X5650, 947-1111

'87 FORD/MERCURY Lynx, needs clutch & battery, gd engine & tires, 70K mi., $800/b.o. 635-4417 (after 6 p.m.)

'87 TOYOTA Tercel, 114K mi., hatchbk, seats torn, runs great, $2400/b.o. Jurgen, X7843, 528-3151

MOTORCYCLE, '82 Yamaha Seca 650, exc. cond., $1800. Judy, X6540, 631-6642


VANPOOL from the Tri-Valley area, Livermore, Pleasanton, Dublin, San Ramon. Philip, X6583

VANPOOL, riders wanted from Rohnert Park - stopping at Petaluma & Novato - ending at Berkeley BART, Commuter Checks accepted. Shirley, X4521


JESSYE NORMAN, 5/15, Zellerbach Hall, 1 ticket, $36. J. Klems, 528-9522


HEAT REGISTER, old-fashioned, 12"x13" w/2-1/4 depth at floor level or approx. sz., top $ paid. Ruth, 526-2007

SUMMER JOB for Swiss high school student, graduating in June, baby-sitter/mother's helper, exp. w/children. 527-0992, 527-3664 (FAX)


CABINET, audio/video rack-style, 6' tall, 30" wide, 12" deep, has 4 adj. height shelves - 2 glass, wood finish, 2 units avail., $60 ea./b.o.; dishwasher, GE, built-in, works well on all cycles, $50/b.o. Philip, X6583

COMPUTER, Lap Top Acernote 786, 8M Ram 500MB HD 486DX4/75, 256 color display, 2 card slots, trackball, many programs installed, orig. box & manuals, exc. cond., $1500/b.o. 235-3983

CORNER CABINET, traditional, cherry, w/glass front door; many antiques also. 528-3575

CRIB, Childcraft, med. oak finish, single drop side, exc. cond., crib mattress, Evenflo, exc. cond., clean, used for 1 child, $100 for both. X7130

EXERCISE MACHINE, Healthrider, brand new, never used, $275. Alan, 234-9041

FREE-STANDING HEATER, Schwank-Perfection, model VC2500TN-R, 50K BTU, used twice, exc. cond., $450. Denny, 237-8171

FUTON, full sz., 3-way frame, $55; standing lamp, $12; vacuum cleaner, Hoover, $25; toaster, $6; coffee machine, $12; iron, $12; radio alarm clock, $7; hairdryer, $10; printer, Canon BJ 200 ex, $140. Rudy or Katja, 549-1742

LIFT TICKET VOUCHERS, Squaw Valley, $38 ea. (2); Alpine Meadows, $36 ea. (4). Greg, X5379

LIFT TICKET VOUCHERS, Squaw Valley, reg. $45, $39; men's ski boots, Nordica, blk, sz. 11, $100; ladies ski jumpsuit, white w/other colors, sz. 10, $50; water filters, NSA, sink models 50C & 100S. Marek, X5029, 582-5867

LOFT BED KIT, all pine wood, bolted construction, never used, $125/b.o. Stan, X6849, 845-7468

MOVING SALE, Windsurfer One Design, complete, fair cond., $30; waxable X-country skis & poles, $20; queen sz. waterbed w/heater, sheets etc., $20. Kathy, X4383, 986-0323 (eve.)

MOVING SALE, 2 armchairs, $20 ea.; 2 coffee tables, $40; Sony stereo, $150 & other things. Anders, X4601, 526-3374

MOVING SALE, full sz. futon, TV, tables, chairs, iron, shelves, kitchen appliances & more. Javier, X5446, 843-9534

NORDIC TRACK, Basic Skier, incl. distance/spd meter, hardly used, $150. Carol, 637-1814

ORGAN, console, Yamaha, walnut cabinet, 8 rhythm settings, $200. Monte, X6761

PAGER, Motorola Lifestyle, 1 yr. old, gray, 16 number memory, time-stamped msgs., tone/vibrate, light, clock, new $90, $70/b.o.; compact stereo, Magnavox, 4 yrs. old, 2-pcs., phono, turner w/16 presets, 3 band eq., dbl cass. deck, single CD player, new $400, $125/b.o. Lisa, X4166

PERSIAN RUG, antique, 60 yrs. in family, perfect cond., hand-knotted Hammedan, 5'x7', predominately red/multi., $600/b.o. 883-1652

RECEIVERS, stereo-surround, Denon-AVR1000, $275; Sony, 6X808ES, $300; Onkyo, TX-SV727, $450; CD player, Technics, 5 disc changer, $100. Mark, X6825

SAILBOATS (2), 22' Columbia fiberglass w/fin keel, sails, 7.5 HP outboard engine, toilet & galley, slps 4, $2K; Mystic 24' w/full keel, sails, 4 cyl. atomic gas inboard engine, standing headroom, toilet & galley, slps 4, $3K. Nan, 527-4298

WEIGHT TRAINING MACHINE, BMI Model 9800, exc. cond., new cables, $110. Dick, X6466, 526-6087


ALBANY, 2-bdrm, 2-bth condo, partly furn., bay view, swimming pool, tennis cts, 24 hr. sec., garage parking, 15 min. bus/BART to LBNL/UCB, nr shopping ctr, no pets, non-smoker, lease, avail. 4/1, $980/mo. Rai, 524-7941

BERKELEY, Northside, 2417 Hilgard, unfurn. 1-bdrm apt in a 4 unit bldg, frpl, hardwd flrs, walking distance to UCB, nr bus, shops, cafes & restaurants, mo.-to-mo. rental, incl. water & garbage. 524-5583

BERKELEY, 2 rms avail. in furn. home, nr UCB & Rose Garden, washer/dryer, views, frpl, hot tub, decks, $450 & $500/mo. David, 525-4470

BERKELEY HILLS, Euclid/Cedar, 5 blks from UCB, furn. rm in pvt. home, kitchen privs., washer/dryer, deck, bay views, nr trans., shops, tennis cts & Rose Garden, no smoking, no pets, $450/mo. + util. 548-1287

CASTRO VALLEY, 2 bdrms avail. in home, one w/pvt bth, laundry & kitchen privs, short/long term, rent + dep. negot. Marek, X5029, 582-5867

EL CERRITO, furn. 2-bdrm townhouse, 1-1/2 bth, 2-car garage, washer/dryer, inner courtyard nr swimming pool, avail. 4/1-9/30, $850/mo. 525-2135

KENSINGTON, furn. 3-bdrm house, lg. garden, 1 cat, avail. 5/1 for duration of summer, $1200-$1300/mo. depending upon sz. of family. Ruth, 526-2007

OAKLAND, nr Mormon Temple, 2-bdrm house, share bathrm during weekdays, prefer female, $700/mo. + dep. 531-2058 (msg.)

RICHMOND (off Arlington), unfurn. 3-bdrm, 1-bth house, partial view of bay, frpl, W/D hook-ups, garage, hardwd flrs, refrig., stove, yd, nr bus & BART, 1 yr lease, $1200/mo + 1 mo. dep., availability negot. Dee, 235-6587 (eve.)

RICHMOND, Marina Bay, 2-bdrm, 2-bth condo, bay view, frpl, modern kitchen, balcony, spacious floor plan, extra storage, 2 covered secure parking places, $995/mo. 524-3392

UPPER ROCKRIDGE, 4 mi. from UC, furn. 3-bdrm home, yd, nr exc. schools, no smoking, no pets, avail. 8/1 for 1 yr. (sabbatical), car option avail., $1750/mo. 655-7674

WALNUT CREEK, unfurn. 2-bdrm, 1-bth apt, in duplex on hill, Mt. Diablo view, upper unit, washer/dryer installed, fully equipped kitchen, carport, a/c, lg. yd, dog or cat acceptable, 5-min. walk to BART, 1 yr. lease, avail. in March, $875/mo. + utils. & dep. Denise, 935-2285 (eve.)

WANTED: 3-bdrm house in Orinda/Moraga/Lafayette general area, from end of Aug. for 1 yr., for visiting scientist from Korea, wife & 2 children (6th & 8th grades), prefer furn. Bertha/Donald, 642-9345

WANTED: Albany/Kensington, 3-bdrm house for 1 yr. lease, 1500 sq. ft. or larger. Alan, 234-9041

WANTED: visiting French scientist, spouse & 3 children, want to exchange 4-bdrm apt in center Paris for house near LBNL starting 6/20 until end of Aug., car exchange also possible. 33 1 43389440 (France), [email protected]


BERKELEY, Euclid/Cedar, 1-bdrm condo. in 1923 4-plex, 1100 sq. ft, 9-ft coved ceilings, plaster detailing, bay windows, formal dining rm, pantry, garage, S.F. view, 7-min. walk to LBNL shuttle, $165K. Jon, X6513, 704-0530


SO. LAKE TAHOE, Tahoe Keys, 3-bdrm, 2.5-bth house, W/D, upstairs living, mountain & water views, XC & downhill skiing nearby. Bob, 376-2211


PERSIAN CAT, white, female, approx. 2 yrs. old, to gd home. X7026, 233-0734


Currents/The View and the Communications Department Staff

Published once a month by the Communications Department for the employees and retirees of Berkeley Lab.

Reid Edwards, Public Affairs Department head
Ron Kolb, Communications Department head

Pamela Patterson, 486-4045, [email protected]
Associate editor
Lyn Hunter, 486-4698, [email protected]

Dan Krotz, 486-4019
Paul Preuss, 486-6249
Lynn Yarris, 486-5375

Ucilia Wang, 495-2402
Allan Chen, 486-4210
David Gilbert, (925) 296-5643

Caitlin Youngquist, 486-4020
Creative Services Office

Berkeley Lab
Communications Department
MS 65, One Cyclotron Road, Berkeley CA 94720
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