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Potential Therapy For Halting Breast Cancer Spread Found

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WASHINGTON – US researchers reported Wednesday a potential breast cancer therapy
that may keep away the disease’s recurrence by halting its spread to the bones,
China’ Xinhua news agency reported.

In a study in the US journal Science Translational Medicine, researchers at
the Duke University described two proteins that breast cancer cells use to
invade bone marrow in mice, where these cells can lie dormant for years to
escape chemotherapy or hormonal therapies.

Mouse experiments showed that using drugs that block the two proteins can
not only prevent breast cancer cells from entering the bone marrow, but also
flush these cells out into the blood stream where they could be targetted for
destruction.

“Clinical studies have found that breast cancer can be caught early and
treated, and patients can have no signs of disease,” said senior author Dorothy
Sipkins, associate professor in the division of hematological malignancies and
cellular therapy at Duke. “And then five, 10 or even 15 years later, a patient
can relapse. Most often, the site of the metastasized cancer is in the bone.”

In the new study, Sipkins and colleagues identified two proteins called
E-selectin and CXCR4 from specific blood vessels in bone marrow, with E-selectin
allowing cancer cells to enter the bone marrow and CXCR4 anchoring the cells to
the bone.

Treating the mice with an E-selectin inhibitor successfully blocked the entry
of breast cancer cells into the bone, whereas a CXCR4 inhibitor forced them back
out into the bloodstream, where they can more easily be killed with chemotherapy
or hormonal therapy.

“Our findings could offer new strategies to intervene at the molecular level
before dormant cells can take hold and cause relapse,” said Sipkins. “Our hope
is to move forward with additional studies in mice to better understand our
approach before moving on to studies in humans.” – Bernama

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