British researchers have identified a key protein that can control how breast cancer cells spread in the body.
The study sheds light on how cancer cells leave the blood vessels to travel to a new part of the body, said the researchers from University of Manchester in Britain.
When tumour cells spread, they first enter the blood stream and grip onto the inner walls of blood vessels, the researchers elicited.
The cancer cells control a receptor protein called EPHA2 in order to push their way out of the vessels, they added.
When these cancer cells interact with the walls of the blood vessels, EPHA2 is activated and the tumour cells remain inside the blood vessels. When the EPHA2 is inactive, the tumour cells can push out and spread, revealed the study published in the journal Science Signaling.
The researchers used a technique that allowed them to map how cancer cells interact and exchange information with cells that make up the blood vessels.
“The next step is to figure out how to keep this receptor switched on, so that the tumour cells can’t leave the blood vessels – stopping breast cancer spreading and making the disease easier to treat successfully,” concluded the lead researcher Claus Jorgensen from the University of Manchester.