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Breast Cancer Study makes significant breakthrough in possible disease cure

Researchers at the University of Sheffield said the tumours were effectively "fertilising" the bone to help themselves grow.

  • Published:
play (BBC)

A study has found that breast cancer can manipulate the structure of bone to make it easier to spread there.

According to BBC, researchers at the University of Sheffield said the tumours were effectively "fertilising" the bone to help themselves grow.

The study also made an interesting find, saying it may be possible to protect bone from a tumour's nefarious influence and consequently stop the cancer's spread.

About 85% of breast cancers that spread around the body end up in bone, at which point the cancer is difficult to treat and more deadly, thus cancer charities said this opened up "a whole new avenue for research".

In the course of the research, scientists discovered patients with secondary cancers had higher levels of an enzyme called LOX being produced by their tumours and released into the blood.

Bone is constantly being broken down and rebuilt. But in a series of experiments on mice, the research team showed LOX was disrupting the process and leaving lesions and holes in the bone and using drugs to block LOX prevented the cancer from spreading.

The animal tests also showed that a set of osteoporosis drugs called bisphosphonates could prevent the spread of cancer.

The drugs which  interfere with the way bone is recycled in order to strengthen it are already given to some cancer patients, but the Sheffield team believe they could have a much larger role.

The effect was discovered only in oestrogen-negative breast cancers. They account for around a third of cases, but are far more deadly. The findings may also apply in colon cancer.

The findings have been lauded as a significant breakthrough which open up a whole new avenue for research and treatments that could stop breast cancer spreading to the bone.


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