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Researchers reveal aggressive breast cancer's metastatic path
Date:1/14/2013

NEW YORK (Jan. 14, 2013) -- Scientists at Weill Cornell Medical College have discovered the molecular switch that allows aggressive triple negative breast cancer cells to grow the amoeba-like protrusions they need to crawl away from a primary tumor and metastasize throughout the body. Their findings, published in Cancer Cell, suggest a novel approach for developing agents to treat cancer once it has spread.

"Metastasis can be lethal, and our findings point to potential targeted treatments to stop the spread of this aggressive breast cancer," says the study's senior investigator, Dr. Vivek Mittal, an associate professor of cell and developmental biology and director of the Lehman Brothers Lung Cancer Laboratory at Weill Cornell Medical College.

According to researchers, if such agents were developed, they would perhaps be the first to specifically treat cancer metastasis, importantly in patients whose tumors have already spread. They would also be among the first designed to restore the function of a microRNA (miRNA), a small, non-coding RNA that regulates gene expression, which is crucial to cancer spread. While distinct miRNA "signatures" have been found for many tumor types, including different breast cancers, their specific roles in later steps of cancer metastasis has been unclear, Dr. Mittal says.

In the study, researchers set out to identify a miRNA that impacts metastasis without affecting primary tumor growth, as well as address its underlying molecular mechanisms and therapeutic potential against metastatic breast cancer. They discovered that a miRNA known as miR-708 is inhibited in metastatic triple negative breast cancer. They found that miR-708 acts as a metastatic tumor inhibitor, and when its function is restored, the tumors do not spread or form lethal macrometastases.

Silenced miRNA Inhibitor Molecule Can Be Switched Back On

Triple negative breast cancer has the worst outcome of all b
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Contact: Lauren Woods
Law2014@med.cornell.edu
646-317-7401
Weill Cornell Medical College
Source:Eurekalert

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