New drug in development to reverse spread of breast cancer

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Posted on 28 January 2014
This image shows metastasized human breast cancer cells (magnified 400 times, stained brown) in lymph nodes. (NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE)

This image shows metastasized human breast cancer cells (magnified 400 times, stained brown) in lymph nodes. (NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE)

A new drug is being developed that could potentially stop the spread of breast cancer in its tracks.

Researchers at Cardiff University in Cardiff, Wales, are working on a novel compound that targets a well-studied protein called Bcl3, which has been shown to play a crucial role in breast cancer’s spread throughout the body – a deadly process known as metastasis (pic).

“People thought Bcl3 would be involved perhaps with the growth of tumors,” lead author Dr. Richard Clarkson, from Cardiff University’s European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute. “What we found was that wasn’t true. It didn’t affect the primary tumor’s growth, but it seemed to have an important role in the subsequent spread of that tumor to other parts of the body.”

A substantial majority of cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, since cancer is much easier to treat when it’s localised in the body. Nearly 12,000 breast cancer patients will develop metastasis each year – sometimes even several years after initial discovery of a breast lump.

Through a recent series of studies in Clarkson’s lab, researchers confirmed that Bcl3 plays a critical role in the development of metastatic breast cancer. They revealed that by suppressing the Bcl3 gene in mice, the spread of cancer was suppressed by more than 80 percent.

Given their findings, Clarkson and his team believe that, by targeting the protein, they can ultimately halt cancer’s progression to other organs and even ‘reverse’ its spread outside of the original tumor.




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