London-based researchers have singled out a molecule that might assist the spread of breast cancer, it has been revealed.
Scientists based at London’s Brunel University have discovered that a molecule called Brk is involved breast cancer cells spreading. A team led by Dr Amanda Harvey had already linked the molecule, which is in 60% of breast tumours, with helping the cancer cells grow faster.
The latest research is published in the American Journal of Pathology and it links Brk to metastasis, which causes nearly all breast cancer deaths.
Dr Harvey first discovered that the Brk presence in breast cancer tumours was very high and that it could not be found in normal breast cells. In further tests, she found that if she stopped Brk from working then the tumour cells died, but if she re-introduced them they survived.
This shows that the ability of breast cancer cells to spread and survive is significantly improved by Brk.
Dr Harvey said: “We are now investigating exactly how Brk helps breast cancer to grow and spread so that we can develop ways to prevent this from happening. Our ultimate aim is to develop new ways to kill the breast cancer cells.”