Researchers identify protein that makes breast cancer fatal

New research has demonstrated that a protein called AXL influences the occurrence of metastasis in breast cancer patients

In women with HER2-positive cancer, it was found that the less AXL is present, the better the survival rate. Previously, researchers had linked the AXL protein to another type of cancer, triple negative breast cancer, but no one had examined its presence in HER2-positive cancer before

The research was done on mice and with samples of tumour cells taken from cancer patients in Montreal. Statistical indicators about patients are also encouraging.

It has already been shown that the action of AXL can be hindered. The IRCM researchers administered an AXL-inhibiting drug therapy to mice with HER2-positive tumours and found that metastases were less likely to develop. The drug is currently being tested in clinical trials for various therapeutic uses. If subsequent studies are as successful, this treatment could also be used to treat breast cancer patients.

Jean-François Côté, the study’s lead author, said: ‘Based on this discovery, a treatment targeting AXL could reduce the risk of metastasis. At the moment, we are checking whether the tumour’s environment, such as blood vessels and the immune system, is affected when AXL is inhibited.’

The research has been published in the journal Cell Reports.