Moving towards targeted cancer treatment

researchScientists are close to discovering how breast cells become cancerous it emerged yesterday. Dr Paul Edwards from Cambridge University has identified a gene called NRG1 which is linked to more than half of all breast cancers and fails to guard against normal cells becoming cancerous. Pinpointing this gene could lead to new strategies to improve diagnosis and treatment.

Researchers from London’s Imperial College recently discovered how breast cancer spreads. It generally becomes fatal only when it moves around the body so this could pave the way for treatments to stop the disease in its tracks. “The research uncovered the way breast cancer cells hijack healthy cells,” explains Dr Justin Stebbing. “They ‘switch off’ the protective molecules – known as microRNAs – that normally prevent tumour growth, allowing the cancer to thrive.” The next step is to find a drug that can switch the microRNAs back on and stop the cancer spreading.