Protein that can stop breast cancer from spreading found
But the researchers also found that if they knocked out the microRNA29b, tumours spread even in the presence of GATA3.
In the mouse models of breast cancer studied by Werb's team, GATA3 normally restrains cancerous cells from breaking away from the main tumour and migrating to other organs.
It might be possible, Werb said, to develop drugs that inhibit breast cancer metastasis by re-activating these controls in cancerous cells that have lost the normal protein.
"The targeting we would like to do is to give back microRNA29b specifically to breast tumour cells to prevent metastasis," Werb said.
The study was published in journal Nature Cell Biology.