A research article published in Nature Communications identifies a new mechanism of breast cancer metastasis.
Scientists at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) have uncovered a new mechanism which makes breast cancer cells move and invade the body, a discovery which could shed light on how to treat particularly aggressive forms of breast cancer and stop it spreading and recurring.
The study — published in the journal and led by QMUL's Barts Cancer Institute — investigated the role of a molecule called 'c-Met' which is present in almost a third of breast cancer patients and is known to make breast cancer cells move, and therefore spread, around the body. This process is known as metastasis and is a major cause of treatment failure and cancer death.
When looking at aggressive breast cancer cells, the researchers found that c-Met acted differently to normal and 'switched on' another important molecule (known as 'Rac'), from a specific location inside the cell, instead of from the cell surface, as previously thought. This signalling inside the cell is necessary to trigger the cancer cells movement.