(RxWiki News) Blocking a rogue gene known as WWP2 has led scientists at the University of East Anglia to better understanding of how cancer spreads -- and how to stop it.
Researchers hope the breakthrough leads to new drugs that halt the late stage of cancer when it spreads to other organs.
WWP2 bonds with enzymes in cancer cells to attack and break down a natural inhibitor found in the body that stops cancer cells from spreading. By blocking WWP2, researchers were able to boost levels of this inhibitor, causing cancer cells to remain dormant. The discovery could lead to a treatment that deactivates WWP2, allowing conventional therapies and surgery to be performed on tumors with no risk of the cancer spreading, including cancers of the brain, breast, colon and skin.
Metastasis (spread of cancer in late stages) cannot currently be treated or prevented, said Andrew Chantry of UEA's School of Biological Sciences, leaving researchers charged with the challenge of developing "a potent drug that will get inside cancer cells and destroy the activity of the rogue gene."