Breast cancers enlist the help of normal cells to help them spread and survive
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IMAGE: Senior author Assistant Professor Alex Swarbrick with co-first authors Dr. Aurelie Cazet and Dr. Mun Hui. view more 

Credit: Garvan Institute of Medical Research

Working primarily in mouse models of disease, and also in people (through a Phase I clinical trial), the researchers have shown that triple negative breast tumours – which are the most aggressive and have the fewest treatment options – might one day be treated with a drug that cuts the ‘phone lines’ between normal cells and tumour cells.

The findings, which have just been published in the leading journal Nature Communications, stem from a collaboration between researchers at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research (Sydney), the Centre for Cancer Biology (Adelaide), and GEICAM, Spain’s leading breast cancer research group.

Dr Aurélie Cazet and Dr Mun Hui worked with A/Prof Alex Swarbrick (all Garvan) to investigate the role of non-cancerous cells – which, along with cancer cells, are a part of every breast tumour. The researchers analysed the genetic output of thousands of individual cells within the tumour.

Importantly, they found that cancer cells send signals to neighbouring non-cancerous cells (known as cancer-associated fibroblasts or CAFs). And CAFs talk back: they send back their own

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