A new study shows that breast cancer tumors usually erode the bone to ease their spread. A research team from the University of Sheffield noted that tumors make use of an enzyme to virtually “fertilize” the bone to expand their size.
Previous studies had shown that nearly 90 percent of breast cancers reach the bone where they are harder to be treated. But scientists claim that there is a solution which can protect the bone and prevent cancer from further spreading.
They explained that breast cancer tumors usually release an enzyme scientifically dubbed LOX. This enzyme is carried by the blood flow to the bone where it begins its disruptive process. Every bone in our body rebuilds its structure, but when LOX enters the scene the process is halted.
As a result, bones of stage II breast cancer patients usually display holes and lesions in their structure. Researchers said that they have used medications to inhibit LOX and cancer stopped from further spread.
Dr Alison Gartland, lead researcher of the team and cancer biology expert at the University of Sheffield, said that the new findings are a major breakthrough that could delay metastases, or secondary tumors, in breast cancer patients.
Dr. Gartland explained that primary tumors release LOX which acts just like a fertilizer that would help them grow faster on the bone. Scientists used bisphosphonates, a type of medication that is usually prescribed to osteoarthritis patients to block LOX.
The osteoarthritis medication strengthened the bone in the process, while it significantly reduced cancer spread. However, there are some limitations. The new treatment was effective only in estrogen-negative breast cancers, which represent one-third of the cases, although they are the deadliest forms of breast cancers.
“By unveiling the role that the protein LOX is playing, these results open up a whole new avenue for research and treatments that could stop breast cancer spreading to the bone,”
noted Katherine Woods, the research information manager at Breast Cancer Campaign in the U.K.
Ms. Woods also said that the new findings confirm previous studies that had shown bisphosphonates can inhibit secondary breast cancer. Usually, if secondary breast cancer reaches the bone, it drills into it and leaves patients with bone pain and lesions that require new surgery, which deprives women from precious time they would like to spend with family and friends, Ms. Woods also explained.
The results of the research were published this week in the journal Nature.
Researchers currently hope that the new findings may greatly improve the quality of life in colon cancer as well.
Image Source: National Breast Cancer
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