Gene therapy technique 'could aid prevention of cancer metastasis'

22 September 2016

A new gene therapy has been developed that has the potential to help prevent cases of breast cancer from metastasising.

Created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the treatment uses microRNAs to control metastasis, the process by which malignant cancer cells spread from one affected organ to the rest of the body.

Their treatment method works by controlling the expression of a protein called Palladin, which plays a key role in the migration of breast cancer cells and their invasion of otherwise healthy organs.

In vitro experiments in cells showed the new gene technology decreased the expression of Palladin levels, in turn reducing the ability of breast cancer cells to spread to other kinds of tissue. As such, this treatment could potentially be used alongside chemotherapy to treat early-stage breast cancer tumours before they spread.

Natalie Artzi, a principal research scientist at MIT's Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, said: "We are very excited about the results so far, and the efficacy seems to be really good. So the next step will be to move on to larger models and then to clinical trials, although there is still a long way to go."

Posted by Philip Briggs


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