Subscribe to the BioNews newsletter for free

Advanced Search

Search for

Like the Progress Educational Trust on Facebook



New approach to tackle breast cancer

24 April 2017

By Dr James Heather

Appeared in BioNews 897

Researchers have discovered a new approach to slow the rate of breast cancer tumour growth in mice.

Scientists created a novel drug which blocks production of the protein lysyl oxidase (LOX), known to contribute to tumour growth and spread, and were also able to identify the mechanism behind this action.

'We knew that LOX had a role in cancer's spread round the body, but to discover how it also appears to drive the growth of breast cancer cells is a real game changer,' said Professor Caroline Springer of The Institute of Cancer Research and co-lead of the study, which was published in Nature Communications.

LOX helps to shape the extra-cellular matrix, the tangled mesh of molecules that surrounds and supports cells. Previous research had indicated this function of LOX makes it easier for cancer cells to spread, and high levels of LOX in tumours are also associated with poorer patient outcomes.

Researchers at the Institute of Cancer Research in London and the University of Manchester were able to demonstrate that blocking production of LOX reduces the amount of epidermal growth factor receptor (EFGR) on cell surfaces.

Under normal conditions, EGFR helps cells know when to grow and divide. However, in various cancers EGFR is often over-produced or mutated and causes cancer cells to grow faster. The results show that LOX can increase the 'grow' signal of cancer cells.

Using mice which spontaneously develop breast cancer, scientists also showed that tumour size and numbers were reduced when the LOX gene was removed. By creating a new compound which potently inhibits LOX, the authors also showed they could reduce the growth of tumours with no side effects.

The new potential drug, currently referred to as CCT365623, is a modified and improved version of the sole earlier LOX drug, which was chemically unsuitable to be given as a medication. The next step will be to develop an inhibitor suitable for clinical trials.  

'This research in mice is exciting because it not only reveals new details of how breast cancer grows and spreads, but it could lead to a completely new way to stop these processes in patients if proven in people,' said Dr Justine Alford from Cancer Research UK, who was not involved in the study.

This could help improve outcomes for patients, since cancer that has spread is harder to treat. LOX is also thought to play a role in a number of other cancers, so this research could also have applications beyond breast cancer.'


30 October 2017 - by Annabel Slater 
Two studies have discovered 72 new genetic variants associated with the risk of developing breast cancer...

20 March 2017 - by Dr Molly Godfrey 
A genetic study of breast cancer patients suggests that existing drugs for treating rare breast and ovarian cancers may help more patients than previously thought...
26 September 2016 - by Ebtehal Moussa 
A new gene therapy technique using microRNAs has successfully prevented the spread of breast cancer in mice...
07 April 2014 - by Baroness Delyth Morgan 
The news of Angelina Jolie's mastectomy last year brought breast cancer genetics, risk and prevention into the international spotlight. Her decision was only possible due to the efforts of researchers, over the past twenty years and more, to identify the inherited genetic mutations...
21 January 2013 - by Dr Lux Fatimathas 
Women at high risk of developing breast cancer should be offered preventative drugs, suggests the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence in updated guidelines...

Be the first to have your say.

You need to or  to add comments.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

- click here to enquire about using this story.

Published by the Progress Educational Trust


Public Conference
8 December 2017

Speakers include

Professor Azim Surani

Professor Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz

Professor Robin Lovell-Badge

Sally Cheshire

Professor Guido Pennings

Katherine Littler

Professor Allan Pacey

Dr Sue Avery

Professor Richard Anderson

Dr Elizabeth Garner

Dr Andy Greenfield

Dr Anna Smajdor

Dr Henry Malter

Vivienne Parry

Dr Helen O'Neill

Dr César Palacios-González

Philippa Taylor

Fiona Fox

Sarah Norcross

Sandy Starr


Good Fundraising Code

Become a Friend of PET HERE and give the Progress Educational Trust a regular donation