Nav: Home

Specific protein plays key role in the spread of breast cancer

January 25, 2018

Researchers from the University of Liverpool have found an explanation for how breast cancer spreads to the lungs, which could potentially hold the key to preventing the progression of the disease.

Breast cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death in women due to metastasis (the spread of a cancer from one organ or part of the body to another) and the development of resistance to established therapies.

Macrophages are the most abundant immune cells in the breast tumour and can both inhibit and support cancer progression.

Insulin-like growth factors

Led by Dr Ainhoa Mielgo the research team, from the University's Institute of Translational Medicine, conducted a study to gain a better understanding of how breast cancer associated macrophages support breast cancer metastasis with the aim of developing more effective therapies against this disease.

They found that these macrophages express high levels of specific proteins called 'insulin-like growth factors' (IGFs) 1 and 2 and this helps metastatic breast cancer cells grow in the lungs.

IGF-1 and 2 are hormones found naturally in your blood. Their main job is to regulate the effects of growth hormone (GH) in your body. However, as shown in this study, tumours can also express these proteins to help them grow and metastasize to other organs.

Significant reduction in breast cancer metastasis

75% of breast cancer patients examined showed activation of IGF receptors which correlates with increased macrophage infiltration and tumour progression.

In patients with invasive breast cancer, activation of IGF receptors increased to 87%.

The researchers found there was a significant reduction in tumour cell growth and lung metastasis in pre-clinical breast cancer models when IGFs were blocked in combination with paclitaxel, a chemotherapeutic agent commonly used to treat some of the most aggressive types of breast cancer.

The results of this research study have been published in the Oncogene journal.

Improving treatments for invasive breast cancer

Dr Mielgo said: "Our findings provide the rationale for further developing the combination of paclitaxel with IGF blockers for the treatment of invasive breast cancer.

"A better understanding of the mechanisms underlying the metastatic spreading of breast cancer is critical to improve treatment and patient outcome."

Lucy Ireland, PhD student in Dr Mielgo's group and first author of this publication, said: "I am thrilled by our findings, as the combination therapy is more effective than the current treatment in pre-clinical models of breast cancer."
-end-
The study was supported by research groups from the University's Institute of Translational Medicine including Dr Michael Schmid, Professor Fiona Campbell and Dr Dean Hammond, and by external collaborators from the University of California San Diego and the pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim.

The study was funded by the Wellcome Trust, the Royal Society, North West Cancer Research and the Medical Research Council (MRC).

The full study, entitled 'Blockade of insulin-like growth factors increases efficacy of paclitaxel in metastatic breast cancer', can be found here http://www.nature.com/articles/s41388-017-0115-x

University of Liverpool

Related Breast Cancer Articles:

Partial breast irradiation effective treatment option for low-risk breast cancer
Partial breast irradiation produces similar long-term survival rates and risk for recurrence compared with whole breast irradiation for many women with low-risk, early stage breast cancer, according to new clinical data from a national clinical trial involving researchers from The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - Arthur G.
Breast screening linked to 60 per cent lower risk of breast cancer death in first 10 years
Women who take part in breast screening have a significantly greater benefit from treatments than those who are not screened, according to a study of more than 50,000 women.
More clues revealed in link between normal breast changes and invasive breast cancer
A research team, led by investigators from Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, details how a natural and dramatic process -- changes in mammary glands to accommodate breastfeeding -- uses a molecular process believed to contribute to survival of pre-malignant breast cells.
Breast tissue tumor suppressor PTEN: A potential Achilles heel for breast cancer cells
A highly collaborative team of researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina and Ohio State University report in Nature Communications that they have identified a novel pathway for connective tissue PTEN in breast cancer cell response to radiotherapy.
Computers equal radiologists in assessing breast density and associated breast cancer risk
Automated breast-density evaluation was just as accurate in predicting women's risk of breast cancer, found and not found by mammography, as subjective evaluation done by radiologists, in a study led by researchers at UC San Francisco and Mayo Clinic.
More Breast Cancer News and Breast Cancer Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...