Scientists from Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles have identified a novel genetic biomarker responsible for the progression of many breast and prostate cancers.
The finding could bolster efforts to better identify patients who respond to certain types of chemotherapy drugs that attack the most aggressive forms of cancer.
"Understanding and identifying biomarkers is a vital step toward cancer research and care," said lead study author Michael Freeman from Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles, California, US.
"New profiling strategies exemplified by this study will ultimately improve our ability to treat cancer patients," Freeman noted.
The newly identified genetic biomarker - diaphanous- related formin-3 or DIAPH3 - participates in a protein interaction that makes cells rigid.
The study found that when this biomarker is lost or lowered, cells become "deformable," squeezing through tissue spaces, causing disease growth or progression.
The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports