New Discovery Could Stop Breast Cancer from Spreading

Breast cancer cells have a weakness—and that could mean new hope for patients

With National Breast Cancer Awareness Month just around the corner, this news comes at the perfect time: Scientists in the UK have discovered a weakness in breast cancer cells that could help prevent the disease from spreading.

Cancer stem cells, which cause tumor growth, are notoriously drug resistant. The UK team, which published its findings in the journal Breast Cancer Research, found that they could block the cells’ drug-resistant protein and use a drug called TRAIL to stop the growth of secondary tumors. The treatment has also seen success in eradicating new cancer stem cells as they crop up, greatly reducing the rates of cancer relapse.

One of the researchers, Richard Clarkson, who helped develop the method, calls this the “Achilles heel in breast cancer stem cells.”

He continues in this article:

“We can almost completely shut down their ability to spread the disease through the body through secondary tumors. … These are very promising results but so far we have only seen this method work on cells in the laboratory. We need a lot more work to establish how best to suppress [the drug-resistant protein] in patients and whether this can eliminate cancer stem cells in tumors in the breast.”

Still, there’s hope.