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Enzyme blocking cuts cancer spread

22nd February 2011

Researchers have discovered a way to block the metastasis of breast cancer cells in mice by targeting a particular enzyme.

cancercell

Scientists at the Institute of Cancer Research in the UK found that blocking the enzyme LOXL2 stopped the spread of cancer cells to other areas of the body.

The researchers, writing about their finding in Cancer Research, said their discovery could provide a "fantastic drug target".

The team said that nine in 10 cancer deaths were caused by the migration of cancer cells through the body. The cells then grow into tumours and lead to death.

When the team examined patients with breast cancer they discovered that high levels of LOXL2 was associated with cancer cells spreading and low survival rates.

The team also found that the enzyme played a vital role in the early part of cancer development in the body, as it facilitated the entry of cancer cells into the bloodstream.

Dr Janine Erler, team leader at the Institute of Cancer Research, said: "LOXL2 is a fantastic drug target, it's highly likely to be used in a clinical setting."

Arlene Wilkie, Director of Research and Policy at Breast Cancer Campaign, said: "By using LOX2 to predict whose cancer will spread and drugs to block the enzyme to stop this from happening, many more lives could be saved. This laboratory research shows great promise and we look forward to seeing how it translates into patients."

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