Researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have identified a molecule linked to more aggressive forms of breast cancer - a discovery that could point the way to potential cures.
Until this study, the ribonucleic acid (RNA) molecule called miR-181a had never before been tied to breast cancer metastasis. But when scientists found elevated levels of the molecule in late-stage breast cancer tissues, they in turn tested an inhibitor in mouse models. The approach not only prevented metastasis, but also extended the animals' lives.
"Overall, these findings reinforce our belief that the discovery of miR-181 will become a strong predictive biomarker for breast cancer metastasis, and that the high expression of miR-181 in tumor tissues will pave the way for the development of targeted therapies, better prognosis and increased patient survival," said lead researcher William Schiemann, PhD, associate professor of General Medical Sciences (oncology) at the medical school and a member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The study appears online today in The Journal of Clinical Investigation (JCI) and will be published in the journal's January 2013 edition. Its authors include scientists at Case Western Reserve's School of Medicine, the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals.