By Juliano Oliveira
Researchers of the University of South Australia have made a groundbreaking discovery that may improve combat against breast cancer in the future.
The team of specialists managed to identify an invasive protein molecule that could be responsible for part of the most aggressive breast cancers. The ZCCHC24, so-called by the scientists, seems to act in the structure of cancer cells turning the disease even more aggressive.
Its understanding is considered vital because could stop cancer from metastasizing to other sites in the body.
“Understanding why some forms of breast cancer spread and others don’t is vital in understanding how to treat breast cancer,” says lead researcher, and Laboratory Head at UniSA’s Centre of Cancer Biology, and recipient of the Cancer Council Beat Cancer Project grant, Associate Professor Philip Gregory.
“In this research, we’re drilling down to look at individual cancer cells and trying to find out what makes them turn from being benign to being aggressive. Once they become aggressive, these cells can go rogue, branching out across the body and making them very difficult to treat.
“What we’ve discovered is a molecule that appears to be strongly turned on in the most aggressive cancer cells. When we block the action of this molecule, the cells completely change and become far less aggressive.”
Dr Gregory affirms that new treatments for the disease can be unlocked when the scientifical word know the molecule pattern.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide, with more than two million cases across the globe. In Australia, it is estimated that nearly 20,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in 2020. It is the second leading cause of death from cancer among women.
Cancer Council SA Chief Executive Lincoln Size says the findings are an exciting step forward in breast cancer research.
“This new discovery could transform treatments for breast cancer in the future and help thousands of Australian women,” Size says.
“We’re incredibly proud to fund groundbreaking research such as Dr Gregory’s through Cancer Council’s Beat Cancer Project and encourage the community to show their support this Daffodil Day to enable us to continue to fund this critical work.”