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New life-saving cancer treatments could be made possible after the discovery of a protein that can stop the spread of cancer, according to scientists.
The scientists found that metastatic cancers develop “landing places” in organs by secreting proteins that aid the growth of blood vessels and tumours which supply them with nutrients and oxygen. Non-metastatic tumours create a protein, called prosaposin, to halt the blood vessel growth.
According to tests, the cells from metastatic tumours produced low levels of prosaposin, while localised prostate and breast tumours developed high levels of the protein.
Lung metastasis was reduced by 80%, while cancer spread to the lymph nodes was eradicated when prosaposin was added to metastatic tumour cells in mice. The protein affects the connective tissues surrounding a tumour.
Dr Randolph Watnick, from the Children’s Hospital in Boston, US, said: “Prosaposin, or derivatives that stimulate p53 activity in a similar manner in the tumour stroma, might be an effective way to inhibit the metastatic process in humans.”
The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal reported the research.
Copyright Press Association 2009