12 Jul 2013 11:19

TOKYO, July 5 (Bernama)-- A joint team of Japan's Osaka University and Canada's University of Toronto has discovered a gene that can suppress the spread and metastasis of breast cancer, Japan's Jiji Press reported.

The discovery, published in US science journal PLOS One's edition dated Wednesday, could lead to the development of new drugs that can increase the amount of the gene, called Monad, and can thus prevent the progression of cancer, according to the team.

When cancer cells in the mammary gland become highly invasive, they can rupture the membrane that covers the gland and proliferate into blood vessels and lymph nodes. Such cells start growing in different organs, such as the lungs and liver.

Since some 20-30 pct of breast cancer survivors experience such metastasis even after the original cancer cells in their mammary glands are treated, a new type of treatment that can prevent the cells from infiltrating is needed to be developed.

The research group focused on the Monad gene and the protein it produces. The team found that the amounts of Monad in the mammary glands of patients whose cancers had spread to lymph nodes were around the half of those in patients who did not experience the metastasis.

After the gene was put into highly invasive breast cancer cells, the cells became non-invasive, the research team said. This was because the protein produced by the Monad gene prevents the cancer cells from synthesising protein, which makes them become invasive, according to the group.

Osaka University researcher Makio Saeki, a member of the group, said that the team's findings could help widen the scope of treatment options, even if they do not bring about a new cure immediately.

Knowing the amounts of the Monad gene in the patients' mammary glands will help identify what the chances are of their cancers spreading in the future and therefore help them decide whether to undergo surgery or remain on medication, he explained.