Regulating a gene may prevent spread of breast cancer, extend life

Washington: Scientists, including one of Indian-origin, have found that limiting the function of a gene can stop the spread of breast cancer and reduce the risk of death.

The study by Kiran Chada, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, part of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and his team shows that metastasis in breast cancer and the risk of death are reduced when the function of the gene HGMA2, is limited.

Tackling breast cancer. Reuters

Tackling breast cancer. Reuters

"Our research has shown that HGMA2 plays a part in regulating the spread of cancer and could be considered a driver of the process," said Chada, who was principal investigator of the study.

"Further studies could result in the development of therapeutic treatments for patients with breast cancer which could prevent HGMA2's function, reduce the spread of cancer and extend a patient's life," he said.

According to Chada, only a subset of cancer cells in the primary tumour is potentially metastatic and these cells are found at the edge of the tumour in a region known as the invasive front.

Chada's laboratory showed that normal cells do not express HMGA2, and the expression of this gene product converts normal cells into metastatic cells.

Furthermore, the majority of cells which express HMGA2 in human breast cancer tissue were found to be at the invasive front. In additional studies, the researchers showed mice that could not express the HMGA2 gene were found to have a substantially reduced incidence of breast cancer.

The study was published in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.


Updated Date: Jul 24, 2013 13:37 PM

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