Since current advancements in breast cancer therapy have greatly reduced the death rate from primary breast tumors, patients are more likely to die from metastases. According to a study published in Science Signaling, the protein Memo is needed for cell migration and invasion. It acts as an excellent prognostic marker for poor patient outcome as well. Group leader Nancy Hynes and collaborators at the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research studied the structure and biochemistry of the protein, and they found that Memo binds copper and therefore influences the oxidative environment of a cell, which is significant because numerous proteins are activated through oxidation and stimulate cell movement. In addition, high concentrations of Memo correlated with several parameters of aggressive disease. This indication performed better than lymph node status, which is the current most important prognostic marker for disease-free survival of breast cancer. Hynes said they studied patients with a good prognosis; most of them were estrogen receptor– or progesterone receptor–positive, had no lymph node involvement, and had low-grade tumors. However, the 7% of patients with an abundance of Memo predicted early metastasis. This study opens up a possible focus on copper chelation therapies, which are currently in phase 2 clinical trials.
(Medical Xpress)-Nancy Hynes and her group at the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research have discovered an important mediator of breast cancer metastasis. The protein called Memo is not only required for cell migration and invasion, it is also an excellent prognostic marker for poor patient outcome and points the way to new therapeutic approaches.