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Breast Cancer: Withholding Deadly Proteins Slow Blood Vessel Tumor Growth

First Posted: Jul 05, 2015 08:56 PM EDT

Could removing a protein help slow blood vessel growth in tumors?

Researchers at the University of Leeds and the Institute of Cancer Research, London have now discovered a protein that actually triggers the growth of blood vessels in breast cancer tumors; this may result in metastization of the cancer to deadly areas, like the brain.

Yet researchers found that when they withheld this protein--known as DOCK4-- in mouse models, the tumors grew in much slower rates. More specifically, researchers found that a complex of two related proteins, including DOCK4 and DOCK9, were critical in the formation of the lumen--otherwise known as the interior space of a vessel through which the blood flows.

When breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body, it typically forces new blood vessels to form to supply it with nutrients and oxygen that help it flourish, resulting in tumors that are often difficult or even impossible to treat. However, by impeding the speed at which the lumen form, tumors are not fed as effectively by blood vessels that might foster their growth.

The findings are particularly important in how the growth of secondary breast tumors in the brain might one day soon be prevented. Furthermore, researchers are hopeful that this discovery could help experts predict which patients might be at risk of their breast cancer spreading to other parts of the body, including the brain, and to the development of better medications that could help prevent secondary tumors.

More information regarding the findings can be seen via the journal Nature Communications.

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