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Technology and Health News > Tuesday, March-18-2008

Cancer, a malignant protein! -- incredible finds --

Satb1 controls the expression of genes that control the growth of tumour mass and the formation of metastases. The discovery in Nature magazine.

It is a protein the cause of the aggressiveness of breast cancer. It's called Satb1 and was already known to scientists involved because expression of T cells of the immune system. Only now it has revealed its darkest side, showing that they play a key role in the malignant form of breast cancer.

Metastases, which are formed when cells are adding themselves to the tumour to invade tissues nearby and colonize other parts of the body, represent the advanced stage of the disease. Researchers have now discovered that the cells of the breast cancer need their protein Satb1 to become metastatic. The study has just been published in Nature.

The team of Dr. Terumi Kohwi-Shigematsu of Berkeley (California), in collaboration with Russian Jose from Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, has found that in breast cancer Satb1 'reprograms the genome', changing the expression of around a hundred genes, thereby causing tumor growth and spread of metastases.

The study of Satb1 is helping us understand how cancer - not just the breast cancer - is progressing in the body, "said Kohwi-Shigematsu:" The protein, in fact, increases the expression of genes that promote the growth of cancer, reducing the expression of suppressor genes. "Scientists have shown that the protein detected as Satb1 in some form of cancer, is in fact responsible, and thus we have a far better chance to progress or recur. Not only that, but if the protein is injected into non-metastatic cancer cells in animal models in vivo, the tumor becomes invasive. In contrast, in vitro studies have shown that protein removed from the cells of the tumor, not only loses the ability to form metastases, but stops growing, and cells resume their normal appearance.

According to the researchers, the identification of this protein is also essential from another point of view because it might help diagnose and identify the most aggressive forms of cancer before they become metastatic.

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