Cause of Breast Cancer Spread Discovered

Scientists in London have found a molecule that could be aiding the spread of beast cancer, according research published in the American Journal of Pathology. Lead author, Dr. Amanda Harvey, has previously established that a molecule known as Brk, found in 60 percent of breast tumors, plays an important role in accelerating breast cancer cell growth. Her latest findings demonstrate that Brk to be involved in helping breast cancer cells spread.

The spreading of cancer cells or metastasis occurs when cancer spreads from its original site to a new location and is responsible for nearly all breast cancer deaths. Dr. Harvey has studied aggressive breast cancer tumors from patients who normally have an extremely poor outcome. The molecule Brk was found in high concentration in these tumors, but crucially it was not found in normal breast cells.

Additional lab tests revealed that tumors cells died when Brk was inhibited from working, but when Brk was re-introduced they survived. Dr. Harvey believes this demonstrates that Brk has a significant involvement in helping breast cancer cells to both survive and spread.

Dr. Harvey claims, “We are now investigating exactly how Brk helps breast cancer to grow and spread so that we can develop ways to prevent this from happening. Our ultimate aim is to develop new ways to kill the breast cancer cells.”

Arlene Wilkie, of the Breast Cancer Campaign which funded the study, said, “Dr. Harvey’s findings are encouraging and we hope they will take us a step closer to being able to halt the spread of breast cancer, the main cause of death in women with this disease.”


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