Since breast cancer is among the most common forms of cancer in women, any progress in slowing down its dangerous tendency to spread could be revolutionary. Recent research published in the scientific journal Nature reveals a specific type of protein that seems to help breast cancer cells spread to the bone. These findings could help to slow the spread of breast cancer in the future.
Metastasis is the process in which cancer spreads from its original site to other organs and body parts, either through the lymphatics and/or through the passage of blood. The more a cancer spreads, the less likely it will be to properly treat and reverse its effects. Metastasis is generally seen in later stages of cancer and is associated with a lower survival rate and worsened prognosis.
Researchers at the University of Sheffield discovered that a protein known as “lysul oxidase” or “LOX” encourages breast cancer cells to spread to the bone. Once breast cancer or any cancer spreads to the bone, it becomes much more difficult to treat. When the team of researchers introduced the LOX protein to lab rats without tumors, the protein caused bone damage. As a result, it was deduced that drugs which treat bone problems such as osteoporosis may actually prevent breast cancer cells from spreading to the bone.
The team’s future goals are to discern exactly how the LOX protein affects and alters bone cells to encourage metastasis. With the right amount of research, the study’s co-leader believes that they could eventually “stop breast cancer in its tracks”. Read more about these exciting findings on The University of Sheffield’s website here.
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