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Researchers discover possible approach to the treatment of aggressive breast cancer
Date:3/6/2012

This release is available in German.

In particularly aggressive forms of breast cancer, cancer cells can settle in other organs and form metastases there. Once such metastases form, complete recovery is rare. Consequently, it is enormously important to prevent the metastasisation of the breast cancer cells. The success, however, achieved by using existing forms of therapy is limited. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research in Bad Nauheim have now discovered that they can prevent the formation of metastases by blocking the receptor protein Plexin B1. They hope that their discovery will provide a new approach to preventing the metastasisation of aggressive forms of breast cancer, and thus improve the prognosis for patients.

Breast cancer is by far the most common form of cancer in women. Around one in ten women will suffer from the disease at some point in their lives. Around one quarter of all patients suffer from a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer, in which the tumour cells frequently metastasise in other organs. This aggressive form of breast cancer is characterised by the fact that the tumour cells produce the protein ErbB-2. If ErbB-2 is detected in the tumour cells in the tissue sample taken routinely from all breast cancer patients, they must undergo special and complicated therapy. Despite this treatment, it is not always possible to prevent the emergence of metastases.

Scientists from the research group of Stefan Offermanns, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research, have now discovered precisely what it is that makes ErbB-2-producing tumours so aggressive. "It was already known from tests on the nervous system that ErbB-2 forms a complex with the receptor protein Plexin-B1 which controls the movement and migration of cells," explains Thomas Worzfeld, leader of the rese
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Contact: Dr. Matthias Heil
matthias.heil@mpi-bn.mpg.de
49-603-270-51705
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert

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