Targeting Cancer Spread – keeping breast tumours under LOX and key.

Tumours that have spread around the body are harder to treat successfully. Crucial research into which molecules help cancers progress and how to disable them is vital.

Researchers at the Institute of Cancer Research have found the molecule ‘lysyoxidase’ (LOX) whose job is to provide supportive scaffolding around cells called the extracellular matrix which gives tissues their structure.

However research has shown that LOX can edit the extracellular matrix not only to encourage tumours to grow but also help them spread around the body.

“We’ve revealed more about how LOX is involved in promoting growth signals in cancer cells,” says Professor Caroline Springer from the Institute of Cancer Research, one of the study’s lead researchers.

The team looked into how reducing the amount of LOX affected the cells and how to catch and break the chemical signals between the cells.  After 7 years of hard work the research team have developed a drug which aims to stop LOX from promoting tumour growth and metastasis.

They then gave this inhibitor to mice that were predisposed to develop breast cancer that spreads to the lungs, and found that it not only slowed the growth of primary tumours, but also reduced the amount that spread to the lungs. Encouragingly, the scientists didn’t observe any side effects in the mice.

This is a long way off being available to people but it is exciting research with lots of potential.

To read more about LOX please visit Cancer Research UK