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Einstein researchers discover protein that contributes to cancer spread
Date:12/8/2008

December 8, 2008 BRONX, NY - In an important finding published online in Developmental Cell, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, along with collaborators at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have identified a protein likely responsible for causing breast cancer to spread.

Metastatic cancer occurs when cancer cells from the original tumor travel to distant sites via the blood system. Most cancer deaths are due to cancer that has spread to other organs. Trying to stop cancer before it metastasizes is the main goal of cancer treatments. Upon diagnosis, 6 out of 10 breast cancer patients have cancer that is still in its primary location making the potential discovery of a marker for invasive cancer of tremendous value that could better inform treatment options.

Until now, early markers of metastatic breast cancer have been hard to find. However, in the Einstein-led study, researchers have identified a protein that is a promising candidate for a metastatic breast cancer marker.

The protein, called Menainv is present in invasive cells within a breast tumor. These cells move into surrounding tissue and eventually to blood vessels. Menainv is not on breast tumor cells that stay put (resident cells). This is the first time that a protein has been shown to contribute to the invasive and metastatic ability of tumor cells, rather than just being an 'innocent bystander' that shows up when cells are invading, strengthening the potential use of this protein as a marker.

The research was conducted under the direction of and in the laboratories of John S. Condeelis, Ph.D., Einstein professor and co-chair of anatomy and structural biology and co-director of Gruss Lipper Biophotonics Center and Frank B. Gertler, Ph.D., Ross Scholar Professor of Biology at MIT.

The latest research was aided considerably by the work of Jeffrey B. Wyckoff, principal associate, department of anatomy
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Contact: Michael Heller
mheller@aecom.yu.edu
718-430-3101
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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