By understanding what makes breast cancer spread, researchers hope to inhibit that process.
To understand what makes breast cancer spread, researchers are looking at where it lives – not just its original home in the breast but its new home where it settles in other organs. What’s happening in that metastatic niche where migrated cancer cells are growing?
A new study from researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center identifies a protein in that microenvironment that promotes the spread of breast cancer cells. It’s part of a well-known family of receptors, tyrosine kinase receptors, which are implicated in many types of cancer and for which promising inhibitors are being developed.
“A role for the tumor microenvironment in metastasis is being unraveled,” says Celina Kleer, M.D., Harold A. Oberman Collegiate Professor of Pathology at Michigan Medicine. “If we can understand these mechanisms, we can find ways to inhibit them and prevent metastasis.”
Breast cancer spreads to distant sites in the body in about 20 percent of patients. Researchers hope that stopping this spread or neutralizing its impact once it does spread will improve survival.
In a study published in Cell Reports, Kleer and her colleagues took tissue samples from patients, directly from the metastatic breast cancer lesions, to study the cells surrounding the area where these migrated tumors had set up. There are a whole host of cells in the cancer microenvironment, including immune cells, vasculature and mesenchymal stem cells.
Read full article: Looking Beyond Cancer Cells to Understand What Makes Breast Cancer Spread
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