Biotech Updates

OSU Scientists Discover Protein Linked to Spread of Breast Cancer Cells

April 2, 2014

Researchers at the Ohio State University (OSU) discovered a protein that was not previously linked to cancer has an important role in reducing the chances for the disease to extend beyond the initial tumor.

The study published in PLOS ONE showed that mice implanted with breast cancer cells lacking the protein myoferlin produced small, self-contained tumors of cells that didn't leave the tumor. On the other hand, mice implanted with cancer cells with myoferlin developed larger, irregular masses and manifested that cancer cells had invaded the nearby tissues. Based on the observations, myoferlin affects cancer cells in two ways: by changing the activation of many genes involved in metastasis in favor of normal cell behavior, and by altering mechanical properties of cancer cells so they are more likely to remain nested together rather than breaking away to travel to other tissues.

Scientists could use the findings in developing diagnostic methods and treatments tailored to patients based on protein levels and mechanical properties in cells detected in tumors.

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