(Chemotherapyadvisor) – Nodal is a potential target for the treatment of breast cancer angiogenesis and progression, according to a team of Canadian researchers. This conclusion is based on a study entitled “Embryonic Protein Nodal Promotes Breast Cancer Vascularization,” which was published on in Cancer Research on August 1.

This study was based on several lines of evidence regarding tumor vascularization, which is required for breast cancer progression. First, previous studies have shown that patients with breast tumors containing a high density of vascularization have a poor prognosis. Second, another poor prognostic factor in breast cancer patients is the expression of human embryonic stem cell (hESC)-associated genes in breast tumors. Here, the investigators aimed to demonstrate that Nodal, a hESC-associated protein, promotes breast cancer vascularization.

Several experimental results enabled the investigators to meet this aim. First, the investigators reported that human breast lesions containing high density vascularization also express high levels of Nodal (P=0.0078). This result was supported by in vitro experiments in which Nodal was demonstrated to “facilitate breast cancer–induced endothelial cell migration and tube formation, largely by upregulating the expression and secretion of proangiogenic factors by breast cancer cells,” they wrote. Experiments performed in vivo demonstrated the role of Nodal in vascular recruitment as well as inhibition of its expression following tumor formation.

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The investigators concluded that “Nodal is a potential target for the treatment of breast cancer angiogenesis and progression.”