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Experts Nail Gene Behind Cancer Spread

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A single gene appears to play a crucial role in deadly breast cancers, increasing the chances the cancer will spread and making it resistant to chemotherapy, US researchers said.

They found people with aggressive breast cancers have abnormal genetic alterations in a gene called MTDH, and drugs that block the gene could keep local tumors from metastasizing or spreading, increasing a woman’s chances for survival.

“Not only has a new metastasis gene been identified, but this also is one of a few such genes for which the exact mode of action has been elucidated,” said Michael Reiss of The Cancer Institute of New Jersey in New Brunswick.

“That gives us a real shot at developing a drug that will inhibit metastasis,” he said.

Stopping cancer’s spread is important — while more than 98% of patients with breast cancer that has not spread live five years or more, only 27% of patients whose cancer has spread to other organs survive. Reiss and Yibin Kang of Princeton University used several different research approaches to find the gene, which helps tumor cells stick to blood vessels in distant organs.

To get them in the right general area, they used big computer databases of breast tumors and found that a small segment of human chromosome 8 was repeated many times in people with aggressive breast tumors.

While most normal DNA sequences contain only two copies of a gene, they found some breast tumors had as many as eight copies of this gene segment.

Sources: The Times Of India

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