Scientists discover protein which causes growth of cancer cells, believe it could lead the way to help improve therapy options

The focus of the study was triple negative breast cancer which affects around one in seven breast cancer patients.


                            Scientists discover protein which causes growth of cancer cells, believe it could lead the way to help improve therapy options

Scientists have discovered a protein which allows aggressive breast cancers to grow and spread.  Experts believe that further research may lead to new therapies for aggressive cancers.

The focus of the study was triple negative breast cancer which affects around one in seven breast cancer patients. The research was published in the journal Cell Reports. According to reports, it is resistant to hormonal drugs. Researchers discovered that excessive amounts of a protein known as LYN helps in the growth of cancer cells and helps it multiply. 

(Source: iStock)
(Source: iStock)

By reducing the levels of the LYN protein breast cancer could be slowed down. Scientists from Cardiff University shared that the findings could help in the development of treatments which could control the levels of the protein and also suppress cancers. 

"There are 150 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed in the UK every day. To achieve better outcomes for people facing this disease, we need to better understand how it develops so we can improve therapies," shared Professor Matt Smalley, from Cardiff University's European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute. "We wanted to understand what drives an aggressive type of breast cancer called triple negative, which is resistant to hormone therapy and occurs in around 15 percent of breast cancer cases. We looked at a protein called LYN, which is involved in keeping cells alive and allowing them to divide," he continued. "And [we] found it was no longer properly controlled in aggressive breast cancer cells and could drive the cancer cell growth, spread and invasion," he added.

Professor Smalley along with his colleagues found a link between LYN and the BRCA1, a gene mutation which makes up a majority of hereditary breast cancer cases. 

(Source: iStock)
(Source: iStock)

Around 90% of women have a chance of getting cancer. The BRCA1 genes act as tumor suppressors and keep cancer cells in check. If the gene is faulty or missing then women face a higher chance of dangerous tumors. The researchers from Cardiff also found that in women who had the triple negative breast cancer with a BRCA1 mutation, the gene could increase LYN activity.

The gene mutation could help to improve the cancer cells' ability to survive and keep spreading. During lab experiments, interfering with the LYN function killed the BRCA1 mutant cells. Professor Smalley shared, "Now that we understand the role LYN has in aggressive forms of cancer, we can start to think about developing targeted therapies."

"In the future, we could potentially identify patients with increased levels of LYN or a BRCA1 gene mutation and design their breast cancer therapy to suit their type of cancer. We could target LYN to improve therapy options for aggressive breast cancer," he continued.