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Breast cancer breakthrough made

31 July 2012 12:08

Scientists have found the gene that carries and spreads breast cancer

Scientists have found the gene that carries and spreads breast cancer

Scientists are hopeful they can find new ways of treating breast cancer after they identified the gene that carries and encourages the spread of the deadly cells.

The gene, called RhoC, has previously been shown to promote metastasis, which spreads cancer cells to distant organs, which is more likely to kill them than a primary breast tumour.

But the team of researchers from the University of Michigan found that traditional treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy do not kill the cancer cells that encourage the tumours to grow and spread.

Following the discovering of the gene and how it behaves, the scientists said they could work out new ways to kill the cancer cells, an announcement likely to be welcomed by travellers who take out breast cancer travel insurance.

As part of the study, the researchers looked at breast cancer cells that were metastic and cells lines from normal breast tissue. They found that by inhibiting RhoC, the gene's expression is necessary to cause metastasis in both cell lines.

The team also found RhoC over-expression alone can cause cells to spread.

Dr Sofia Merajver said: "Targeting the specific molecular cogs driving the cancer stem cell machinery responsible for the cancer spreading has potential for future treatments."

In the research published in the journal PLoS One, she added: "Eliminating cancer stem cells may ultimately be necessary to cure certain cancers, but in the meantime, we may be able to manage the cancer stem cell population and the invasive behaviours of these cells by disrupting the molecular machinery, using RhoC as a target."