Spanish scientist makes breast cancer breakthrough

28th July 2005, Comments 0 comments

28 July 2005, MADRID – A Spanish researcher has led a team of US scientists who have made a breakthrough in understanding how breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body.

28 July 2005

MADRID – A Spanish researcher has led a team of US scientists who have made a breakthrough in understanding how breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body.

Joan Massagué, a Catalan working for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in New York, was already credited in 2003 with discovering the role of a group of genes involved in spreading malignant cells to bones.

Massagué's work earned him a Prince of Asturias award in his home country in 2004.

On Thursday, Massagué's team revealed they have now discovered the group of genes which cause breast cancer to spread to the lungs, one of the main places where secondary tumours are found in breast cancer patients.

"Our work shows that the ability of a tumour to spread itself depends on the combined action of multiple genes," explained Massagué. "In order for the tumour to spread in different organs, various groups of genes are required.

"Now we can look for the patterns of different cancers and for other organs as well as the lungs."

Massagué's breakthrough could be fundamental in treating cancer and saving lives, especially since in most fatal cancer cases patients die from secondary tumours, rather than the initial tumours.

Medicine is already on the market which can inactivate some of the genes identified by Massagué's research.

"If we are capable of inactivating those genes, we could stop the development of the primary tumour and also block the growth of any malignant cell which has reached the lungs," said Massagué.

The scientists are now investigating other types of cancer which frequently spread to the lungs.

Explaining his discovery, Massagué was optimistic about the future of cancer treatment, stating treatments were "no longer in the cave age".

However, the researcher stressed: "Today, the best medicine against cancer is giving up smoking."

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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