TORONTO - A new Canadian study has found a protein that is linked to the progression of breast cancer.
Researchers at the University of Montreal and the University of Alberta say the new protein - named ARF1 - is crucially active in promoting growth of cancer cells and thus tumours.
A statement issued by the University of Montreal Wednesday said the identification of the rogue protein will help researchers find drug therapy in future to offer hope to breast cancer victims.
Study author and Montreal University professor Audrey Claing said until now researchers didn’t know about the pernicious role of ARF1.
They knew only ‘harmless albeit important housekeeping duties of cells’, she said, adding that her team was the first to unravel the pernicious role of the protein in promoting breast cancer.
She said her team used ‘invasive breast cancer cell lines to study ARF1’s role. These cells are sensitive to a particular growth factor, called epidermal growth factor or EGF, which has previously been shown to stimulate tumour growth and invasion’.
Claing said their findings point to the role of ARF1 in facilitating EGF as they found that when ARF1 activity was chemically blocked, breast cancer cell migration and growth was reduced.
On the other hand, when ARF1 was overproduced in these cells, their movement was enhanced, according to the university statement.
‘Our findings reveal an unsuspected role for ARF1 and indicate that this small protein may be a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of invasive breast cancers,’ the statement quoted Claing as saying.
According to the study, breast cancer is likely to afflict more than 22,000 women in this country this year, killing more than 5,300 of them.
The study has been published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.