Most deaths from cancer occur because of metastasis - when tumour cells spread throughout the body. In the 27 April 2006 issue of Nature (Vol. 440, No. 7088, p. 1222-1226), Amato Giaccia and colleagues identify a protein vital for metastasis that could be a new target for cancer therapies.
Tumours contain areas low in oxygen in which the cells are - for unknown reasons - particularly prone to metastatic growth. The team shows that the enzyme lysyl oxidase (LOX) is produced at high levels in oxygen-starved human breast, head and neck tumours, and that patients with tumours producing high levels of LOX are more likely to suffer metastasis and tend to survive for shorter periods.
The group also shows that LOX promotes metastasis by helping cells migrate into and invade new tissue, and that inhibiting the LOX enzyme blocks metastasis of breast cancer in a mouse model.
Amato Giaccia (Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA)
(C) Nature press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza