Washington: Researchers have recently found the enzyme that controls the metastasis of breast cancer.
The researchs at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, which was among the first to show a link to the spread of breast cancer, found the enzyme, called UBC13, in the breast cancer cells at two to three times the levels of normal healthy cells.
They also established that the enzyme regulated cancer cells' ability to transmit signals that stimulate cell growth and survival by regulating the activity of a protein called p38 which when "knocked down" prevents metastasis.
Xuefeng Wu, PhD, said that primary tumors are not normally lethal, the real danger were cancer cells that have successfully left the primary site, escaped through the blood vessels and invaded new organs, so their study showed that they might be able to block these cells and save lives.
Researchers have also defined a metastasis gene signature that could be used to evaluate clinical responses to cancer therapies that target the metastasis pathway.
The study is published in the current issue of PNAS.