One protein could be crucial in treating breast cancer

One protein could be crucial in treating breast cancer

About one in eight women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society. Invasive breast cancer is cancer that spreads to other parts of the body.

The higher the levels of the protein ALK1 on the surface of the blood vessels, the great the risk of metastases, according to new research. This determines how much the tumor will spread in the body, a discovery that could be key in stopping the extent of the disease.

“Previous research has been very much concerned with the primary tumor, but it is the spread of metastases that leads to fatal outcomes,” said study author Kristian Pietras, PhD, professor of molecular medicine at Lund University in Sweden, in a news release. “We have studied ALK1 for a long time and realized that the protein is central to the new formation of blood vessels in tumors.”

During the study, researchers found the drug Dalantercept to be effective in preventing the spread of tumor cells in mice by blocking ALK1 activity.

“This study is another excellent example of the many advances that are being made in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer,” says Dr. Sigrun Hallmeyer, medical oncologist specializing in breast cancer at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill. “With advancing research discoveries like this, breast cancer specialists like myself and my colleagues feel better able to understand the biology of this illness, which in turn will enable us to be more effective in treating patients in the future. This is especially true for patients with advanced and metastatic breast cancer – an area where a lot of questions remain.”

The drug is currently being tested in early clinical trials and is not available. Researchers are hopeful that the next step will be to test the drug on breast cancer patients.

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One Comment

  1. Sandra Haimann June 23, 2015 at 1:16 pm · Reply

    This might have saved my dear friend, Betsy.

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Sonja Vojcic

Sonja Vojcic, health enews contributor, is a marketing manager at Advocate Health Care in Downers Grove, Ill. She has several years of international public relations and marketing experience with a Master’s degree in Communications from DePaul University. In her free time, Sonja enjoys spending time with her family, travelling, and keeping up with the latest health news and fashion trends.