Team finds gene to halt breast cancer spread


A joint team comprising researchers from Osaka University and the University of Toronto has discovered a gene that can suppress the spread of breast cancer.

The discovery, published in Wednesday’s edition of the U.S. science journal PLOS One, could lead to the development of new drugs that can increase the amount of the gene, called Monad, and help prevent the deadly disease from metastasizing, the team said.

When cancer cells in the mammary gland become highly invasive, they can rupture the membrane that covers the gland and proliferate in blood vessels and lymph nodes. Such cells can start growing in different organs, such as the lungs and liver.

Since about 20 to 30 percent of breast cancer survivors will see the cancer spread even after its original cells are treated, a new treatment that can prevent the cells from infiltrating is needed.

The group focused on the Monad gene and the protein it produces. It found that the amount of Monad in the mammary glands of patients whose lymph nodes had also been infected was around the half that of patients who had not experienced metastasis.

After the gene was put into highly invasive breast cancer cells, the cells became noninvasive. This was because the protein produced by the Monad gene prevents the cancer cells from synthesizing protein, which makes them become invasive, the group said.