Exciting breakthrough can cripple cancers

December 15th, 2008 - 1:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Dec 15 (IANS) Scientists have stumbled on a vital breakthrough in their fight against cancer - they can cripple its progression by switching off a particular molecule. Metastasis is the ability of cancer cells to proliferate from a primary site and form tumours at distant sites, a complex process enabled by cell motility and invasion.

Crucial to our understanding of the process is identification of the molecules and characterisation of the mechanisms that regulate such motility, which were poorly understood.

Now, a team of researchers led by Marco Falasca at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry has shown not only enzyme phospholipase Cy1 (PLCy1) plays a crucial role in metastasis formation, but switching it off reverses metastasis.

The team investigated the role of PLCy1 in cell invasion and metastasis using different approaches to modulate its expression in highly invasive cancer cell lines, said a London release.

Their results showed that PLCy1 is required for breast cancer cell invasion and activation of the protein Rac1. They revealed a functional link between PLCy1 and Rac1 that provides insight into processes regulating cell invasion.

Falasca, a professor explained that “consistent with these data we detected an increase in PLCy1 expression in metastases compared to primary tumours in breast cancer patients.”

“Therefore PLCy1 is critical for metastasis formation, and development and inhibition of this enzyme has a therapeutic potential in the treatment of metastasis dissemination.”

“This is an exciting discovery. He has shown that turning off this molecule prevents metastasis. The simple fact is that if you stop metastasis, you stop cancer from killing people. We now need to focus on developing drugs that can block PLCy1,” he said.

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