The interaction between breast cancer cells and a receptor protein called EPHA2 helps explain how the cancer spreads through the body, according to a prominent group of investigators looking for new ways to fight cancer.
Investigators at Cancer Research UK observed that when EPHA2 is inactivated, the cells can push out of blood vessels. But using new mapping techniques they also determined that when the receptor protein is activated, the tumor cells stay inside the vessels. The results were published in Science Signaling.
"The next step is to figure out how to keep this receptor switched on, so that the tumor cells can't leave the blood vessels--stopping breast cancer spreading and making the disease easier to treat successfully," says Claus Jorgensen, who led the research at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and at Cancer Research UK's Manchester Institute at the University of Manchester.
"More research is needed before this will benefit patients but it's a jump in the right direction," noted Nell Barrie, Cancer Research UK's senior science information manager.