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New Gene May Signal Aggressive Breast Cancer

Finding provides insight into tumor growth, metastasis, researchers say

MONDAY, July 20 (HealthDay News) -- Scientists have identified a new gene that may contribute to aggressive breast cancer, new research shows.

Using a new method of analyzing "microarray expression profiles" of breast cancer tumors, researchers from the Genome Institute of Singapore determined that the gene RCP might be implicated in the development of breast cancer.

They then studied noncancerous, human breast epithelial cells and found that when RCP protein was overproduced, the otherwise healthy cells began to look more like tumor cells, according to the study in the July 20 issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Researchers also found that by decreasing the production of RCP protein in breast cancer cell lines, they were able to reduce their proliferation.

Next, researchers implanted cells with decreased RCP protein expression into mice with an immunodeficiency. Researchers found that the altered cells had less capacity for tumor growth and metastasis.

According to the study, RCP overexpression also impacts the RAS protein, which previous research has implicated in tumor growth.

Researchers said RCP may promote breast cancer by activating the RAS signaling pathway. Developing treatments that target RCP may represent a new way to slow down tumor growth.

The study provides new insight into cellular processes underlying tumor cell proliferation and metastasis that may help in developing new breast cancer treatments, according to an accompanying commentary.

More information

The National Cancer Institute has more on breast cancer.

-- Jennifer Thomas

SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Investigation, news release, July 20, 2009

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