March 6, 2012

Hope for Aggressive Breast Cancer Patients

(Ivanhoe Newswire)-- Metastasis is the spread of breast cancer due to an original tumor; this process is the leading cause of death for women with breast cancer, but now there´s hope.

Researchers led by Stefan Offermanns and Thomas Worzfeld, in Germany produced data in mice and humans that implies that the protein Plexin-B1 represents a new potential therapeutic target to treat patients with breast cancer found to overexpress the molecule ErbB-2.

AN Estimated 30% of all breast cancers overexpress ErbB-2. ErbB-2—overexpressing tumors have high metastatic potential and poor outlook. Offermanns, Worzfeld, and colleagues found that overexpression of ErbB-2 in human breast cancer cell lines led to activation of Plexin-B1, and that this promoted human breast cancer cells to develop in vitro characteristics of metastatic cells.

Furthermore, in a mouse model of ErbB-2—overexpressing breast cancer, extraction of Plexin-B1 reduced the frequency of metastases, while in human patients with ErbB-2—overexpressing breast cancer, low levels of Plexin-B1 expression aligned with better prognosis. Offermanns, Worzfeld, and colleagues now suggest that blocking the ErbB-2/Plexin-B1 interaction or inhibiting Plexin-B1—mediated signaling might reduce the risk of metastasis in patients with breast cancer overexpressing ErbB-2.

SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Investigation, March 2012.