As cancer develops in the body, tumours can continue to grow or cancer cells can break off and be spread around the body in a process known as metastasis. As cancer cells spread, they can start to affect other organs within the body and make treatment more challenging. Methods that could prevent metastasis could greatly improve a patient's chance of surviving cancer.
Researchers at Imperial College London studying breast and lung cancer cells found that a protein, MARK4, enables these cells to break free and move around the body. The researchers then studied the affects when a molecule, miR-515-5p, which is designed to suppress the production of MARK4 is introduced. They found that increasing the levels of miR-515-5p prevented the spread of cancer cells. They also found that patients with higher amounts of MARK4 had lower survival rates.
The team's findings have been published in the journal EMBO Reports.