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Embryonic development protein active in cancer growth
Date:3/6/2012

normal cells. They identified that such antibodies could target ROR1, accounting for the specificity of these antibodies in reacting with cancer cells. They identified another protein that could interact with ROR1 to stimulate the growth and/or survival of leukemia cells and that antibodies generated against ROR1 could block this function.

The discovery that ROR1 functions similarly in breast cancer heightens hopes. When the protein was silenced in human breast cancer cells, the cancer cells had slower rates of growth in the laboratory and in animal studies.

"There was a qualitative difference," said Kipps. "When ROR1 was knocked down, it took away some of the growth advantage enjoyed by cancer cells. Their capacity to survive also was impaired. This could affect the capacity of the cancer cells to survive treatment with other anti-cancer agents or generate tumors altogether."

The researchers report that expression levels of ROR1 correlate with the severity of at least some forms of breast cancer. The most aggressive cancers were the ones more likely to express ROR1. "That suggests ROR1 could be a good target for treating the most aggressive kinds of breast cancer, particularly the ones that lack expression of hormone receptors or the marker HER2/neu, which already can be targeted by monoclonal antibodies," Kipps said.

The discovery of ROR1's role in both blood and breast cancers also suggests it might have a similar function in other forms of cancer, a possibility Kipps said researchers will pursue.


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Contact: Scott LaFee
slafee@ucsd.edu
619-543-6163
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert  

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