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Aggressive Breast Cancer Linked To NEDD9 Protein

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

New evidence suggests that the NEDD9 protein is linked to aggressive forms of breast cancer. Researchers from Fox Chase Cancer Center have found that without the critical NEDD9 protein, breast cancer cannot grow. The research is based on mouse studies.

Study co-author Erica A. Golemis, PhD, Fox Chase professor and co-leader of the Molecular Translational Medicine Program says, “For the first time, we have been able to present evidence that directly demonstrates reduced levels of NEDD9 in a living animal that limit the appearance of aggressive metastatic breast cancer.” The findings could help scientists find new ways to diagnosis aggressive breast cancer, and also lead to more targeted treatment.

The first discovery of the NEDD9 protein came in 1996. The protein was found inside the cell membrane where it acts as a scaffolding mechanism, sending signals to cancer cells that control growth. Excess amounts of the protein have been linked to metastasis of a variety of cancers, including melanoma, gioblastoma and lung cancer. Now NEDD9 protein is linked to aggressive breast cancer.

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For the study, Fox Chase researchers bred mice that lack the NEDD9 protein. The mice were then made to turn on an oncogene that induces breast cancer, then compared to normal mice. The mice given the oncogene for breast cancer developed tumors at a much slower rate that was genetically different from the normal mice.

“This was the first study able to address the question of what happens in breast cancer if this gene isn't around,” Golemis says. “And the answer is that we see a more moderate cancer development, which alone speaks volumes on the role of the (NEDD9) protein in aggressive breast tumors.”

The researchers say that understanding signaling pathways, such as the NEDD9 protein that leads to cancer growth and metastasis are important steps for halting cancer metastasis. The NEDD9 protein, now linked to aggressive breast cancer, provides clues that can help halt the growth and spread of the disease. Finding ways to block the protein could stop breast cancer from becoming aggressive.

Source: Fox Chase Cancer Center