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UC Davis researchers identify a protein that may help breast cancer spread, beat cancer drugs
Date:4/1/2009

ls and epithelial cells that do not naturally express Muc4 but were engineered to do so. Both sets of cells avoided cell death and effectively resisted chemotherapy.

"Our results lead us to believe that Muc4 is somehow disrupting normal links between epithelial cells," said UC Davis graduate student Heather Workman, lead author of the study. "We now need to refine our understanding of this disruption process in order to find ways to interfere with it. There currently are no drugs that target Muc4, and this research will help change that."

Carraway is now preparing to test metastasizing breast cancer tumor cells for the overexpression of Muc4.

"If we find that Muc4 is all over metastasizing breast cancer cells, it will confirm that we are on the right track," he said.

While Carraway's current focus is on breast cancer, his findings could have relevance to other cancers that show aggressive properties. For example, Muc4 is also expressed in pancreatic, lung and ovarian tumor cells.

"Muc4 is likely a central cellular mechanism for metastasis of many cancers, and we will be continuing this important work to prove that," he said.


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Contact: Karen Finney
karen.finney@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu
916-734-9064
University of California - Davis - Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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