Jean-François Côté, a researcher at the Montreal Clinical Research Institute (IRCM) and professor at Université de Montréal’s Faculty of Medicine, studies metastasis, the leading cause of cancer-related death. Recently, his team uncovered a protein that, once deactivated, could prevent the development of metastases in an aggressive type of cancer, HER2-positive breast cancer.
One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime and one in 30 is expected to die from it. The findings, published in the journal Cell Reports, could improve this prognosis.
A cancerous tumour develops when cells proliferate at an abnormally high rate and agglomerate in healthy tissue. Some of these cells are even more cunning. “Sometimes, cancer cells manage to leave the tumour to spread in the body, which complicates the evolution of the disease,” said Côté, director of the IRCM’s Cytoskeletal Organization and Cell Migration Research Unit.
These cells move more easily than most of their peers. They detach from the tumour, enter the bloodstream and reach other organs, for example the lungs, bones or the brain. Called ‘metastatic cells,’ they are more difficult to destroy as they spread to other parts of the body and are more resistant
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