The majority of deaths from breast cancer are caused because of the tumor spreading to other parts of the body. The lung is often the first organs to be affected. In a revolutionary breakthrough, scientists at University of Edinburgh have discovered the triggering factor for the spread of breast cancer cells. This discovery will help the scientists to find new therapies to halt the spread of breast cancer tumor.
The research team investigated the role that immune cells called macrophages play in helping cells from the original tumor to spread, and found that macrophages require signalling molecules called chemokines to communicate with breast cancer cells. When the researchers blocked these signals in mice, they found that the number of secondary tumors in the lungs was reduced by up to two thirds. The results suggest that targeting a chemokine receptor signalling molecule called CCR1 may result in fewer unwanted side effects for patients while stopping the spread of breast cancer cells.
Professor Jeffrey Pollard said, "The findings open the door to the development of treatments that target the tumor micro-environment, which may stop the deadly progression of breast cancer in its tracks."
The study is published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.