Epigenetic Regulation of Metastatic Breast Cancer Progression Gene Identified

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A new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science concluded that a gene playing a role in the development of breast cancer metastasis has been identified and may help to predict disease progression and serve as a target for development of future breast cancer therapies.

The gene called serum deprivation response (SDPR) was identified and the mechanism by which it is down-regulated, or silenced, in breast cancer cells promoting tumor spread were discovered. Using a breast cancer progression model, they found that aggressive, metastatic breast cancer cells have little or no genetic expression of SDPR and furthermore when it is over-expressed (turned on) this gene in models of breast cancer cells with propensity to metastasis show a significant reduction in metastatic disease. This study shows the importance of gene regulation by epigenetics instead of genetic mechanisms enabling cancer cells to readily adapt to new micro environments of various organs in the human body at sites away from the initial sites at which the cancer cells formed. Researchers report this work is crucial because the spread of cancer is the major cause of death. They say “It is of utmost importance to understand the underlying molecular mechanisms that facilitate/prevent cancer metastasis.” They continue “While this is a significant advance in deciphering the molecular bassis of metastatic disease and may help to predict progression to metastatic cancer, its potential importance in the development of future precision cancer therapies have yet to be worked out from the identification¬† of druggable targets regulated by SDPR.”

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