A master switch controls aggressive breast cancer
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IMAGE: To better understand cell “plasticity ” in breast cancer, Salk scientists study how different cell types are generated in its tissue of origin, the mammary gland. From left: Christopher Dravis, Chi-Yeh… view more 

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LA JOLLA–(August 30, 2018) A team at the Salk Institute has identified a master switch that appears to control the dynamic behavior of tumor cells that makes some aggressive cancers so difficult to treat. The gene Sox10 directly controls the growth and invasion of a significant fraction of hard-to-treat triple-negative breast cancers.

Recently, the Salk lab led by Professor Geoffrey Wahl discovered that aggressive breast cancers return to a flexible, earlier state found in fetal breast tissue. This cellular reprogramming may be the key to cancer’s ability to form new cell types, evolve drug resistance and metastasize to other locations in the body. The new work documenting Sox10’s role in this process, which was reported in the journal Cancer Cell on August 30, 2018, represents a major milestone in researchers’ understanding of cancer and could open new avenues for diagnosing and treating aggressive breast cancer as well as other types of intractable cancers.

“Two things that make triple-negative breast cancers so hard to treat are their

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