Lung metastasis may be marked by tumor cell protein

Metastatic breast cancer often ends up with tumors in the lung, and as with all cancers, the earlier these are spotted and treated, the better the outcome. Biomarkers for these invasive cancer cells could be used for diagnosis, or for targeted treatment. Researchers from the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) have spotted a protein, peroxiredoxin 2, that could fit this role.

The protein is an antioxidant found at higher levels in lung metastatic breast cancer cells, and could be produced by the cancer cells as protection from a response from reactive oxygen species (ROS, also known as free radicals). The researchers looked at cell lines and animal models and found that reducing the levels of this biomarker stopped the cancer from metastasizing to the lung.

"These findings," said Àngels Sierra of IDIBELL, in a statement. "suggest that modifying the expression of peroxiredoxin 2 could lead to a new therapeutic approach to prevent lung metastases, as there are drugs already being tested in other diseases, capable of inhibiting the protein."

The next step will be to see whether the biomarker can predict the risk of lung metastasis in patients with breast cancer.

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- see the abstract