A mechanism key in the development of metastatic breast cancer has been identified by researchers at the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center.
The boffins have found a molecular mechanism in breast cancer that enables tumor cells to spread to adjacent or distant parts of the body in a process called metastasis.
The research, led by Peter Zhou, associate professor of molecular and cellular biochemistry at UK, focused on the process by which tumor cells stop clinging to other cells and become motile, or able to spread throughout the body.
The findings were published in an article in the EMBO Journal, the flagship publication of the European Molecular Biology Organization.
Zhou said: "Scientists at the Markey Cancer Center are currently exploring this idea and are keen to develop drugs that can treat metastatic cancer."
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. Approximately 90 percent of breast cancer deaths are caused by local invasion and distant metastasis of tumor cells, and the average survival after documentation of metastasis is approximately two years.
"An understanding of the mechanism underlying the biology of breast cancer metastasis will provide novel therapeutic approaches to combat this life-threatening disease," Zhou said.