JERUSALEM, Israel – Scientists at Tel Aviv's Bar Ilan University have produced an amino acid chain – a peptide – that prevented secondary breast cancer in mice with a 90 percent success rate. They're hopeful that the peptide substance will lead to a medicine to help prevent secondary cancer in humans.
The spread of cancer cells from a primary tumor to body tissues or organs is the major cause of death for cancer patients, and is responsible for 90 percent of breast cancer deaths.
The scientists' efforts focused on breast cancer in mice, but they believe the success of their peer-reviewed study, published in the journal, Oncogene, would apply to other kinds of cancers as well.
Typically, cancer treatment has focused on reducing the primary tumor in a patient, but there is no treatment currently that prevents metastatic cancer, the kind that breaks down cells and travels through the bloodstream to other body parts. The molecular blockers produced by the Tel Aviv researchers did that successfully in the mice.
Cells from primary tumors often develop structures like feet, called invadopodia, which enable the cell to break away from the tumor and batter down the walls of other cells, setting up a malignancy elsewhere in the body.
Co-author of the Bar Ilan study, Professor Jordan Chill, told The Times of Israel, “We believe that this can prevent the activation of the invadopodia and therefore inhibit metastasis. I expect that it could be used in addition to chemotherapy or other treatments that kill cancer cells."
The Times of Israel quoted the other co-author of the study, Dr. Hava Gil-Henn, who said, “Our advance is very exciting, as today there are no drugs in production that prevent metastasis, (or) in other words exist especially to stop cancer from spreading."
Gil-Henn added, “Most drugs are focused on shrinking tumors once they develop. We are taking a preventative approach, which could save many from a second illness and save many lives.”