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MEDICAL TEAM'S BREAST CANCER SUCCESS.

Byline: JULIA MCWATT Reporter julia.mcwatt@walesonline.co.uk

ATEAM of Welsh scientists are developing a treatment that could reverse the spread of breast cancer to other parts of the body.

Researchers at Cardiff University have developed a compound with the hope it will reverse the spread of malignant breast cancer to other vital organs - known as metastasis - which is responsible for the majority of deaths from the disease.

In trials on mice, the compound has shown a complete halt in the spread of metastatic tumours.

Around 12,000 breast cancer patients develop this form of the disease every year, often several years after initial diagnosis of a breast lump.

In recent studies, researchers identified a critical role for a potential cancer-causing gene, Bcl3, in metastatic breast cancer.

In their current research, the team at Cardiff University are looking at ways to suppress this gene through treatment.

Using computer-aided modelling of how the Bc13 gene works, the group identified a pocket on the surface of the gene that is essential for its function.

They then identified a drug that could inhibit the way the gene works.

When the compound was trialled on mice with metastatic disease, researchers found the drug completely stopped the development of the mice's metastatic tumours.

The team are now working to test the compound in clinical trials with the aim of developing a treatment that can block metastatic disease in breast cancer and a variety of tumour types.

Dr Richard Clarkson, from the University's European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute, said: "Despite great improvements in therapy of early stage breast cancer, the current therapeutic options for patients with late stage metastatic disease are limited.

There is therefore a clear unmet clinical need to identify new drugs to reverse or at least to slow down disease progression."

Cancer charities cautiously welcomed the progress but warned that the research was still in early stages.

Dr Ian Lewis, associate director of research at Tenovus, said: "Every year in the UK nearly 50,000 women and 400 men are diagnosed with breast cancer with more than 2,500 of those diagnosed living here in Wales.

"Due to our increasingly ageing population the incidence of breast cancer has increased over 70% since the 1970s, and whilst survival rates in the UK are high and continuing to improve, for some women existing treatment will not be effective in halting the spread of the disease.

"These results seen in the laboratory are very encouraging and if they can be reproduced in clinical trials it would have major clinical benefits for many breast cancer patients."

Dr Kat Arney, Cancer Research UK's science communications manager, said: "While the researchers have found a potentially useful new approach to tackling breast cancer spread, these experiments have only been done in the lab and in a mouse model of breast cancer so far.

"At the moment it's not clear whether the Bcl3 molecule plays the same role in the spread of breast cancer in humans, or whether blocking it will halt the spread of cancer in humans. However, the research does shed light on a molecule whose role in cancer spread has been relatively unexplored, so it will be interesting to see the progress of further research into compounds that block it."
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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 26, 2014
Words:544
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