scientists in Yorkshire have discovered a process which plays a key part in the development of the nervous system could also have a pivotal role in the spread of breast cancer.
A research team at York University used breast cancer specimens taken from the Breast Cancer Campaign’s ground-breaking tissue bank in the study.
They looked at how a protein called beta-one is present at high levels in breast cancer samples compared with normal tissue.
They showed for the first time that an increase in protein levels makes tumours grow faster and may also play a significant role in enabling cells to change shape and move and consequently spread.
Although the number of deaths from breast cancer is decreasing, it is still the leading cause of cancer death in women because of its capacity to spread or metastasize.
Will Brackenbury, who led the research team from the biology department at York, said there was no cure for metastasis, blocking the process could be a potential target.
“What is most exciting is that the mechanism by which beta-one regulates migration appears to replicate what it does in the central nervous system,” he said.
Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive at the Breast Cancer Campaign, said: “Dr Brackenbury’s findings demonstrate how the tissue bank is helping drive forward research and new discoveries into what could be causing breast cancer to spread.”