A team of US researchers have found an innovative new method of ‘modelling’ breast cancer which could help identify lethal tumours that are likely to spread throughout the body.
The group of scientists, from the University of Utah’s Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI), inserted tumour tissue from breast cancer patients into the mammary glands of mice.
In the mice, the cancer developed in the same way as it would do in humans, retaining the same genetic makeup and structure.
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As well as helping to find which cancers are likely to spread, it is hoped this new modelling technique will also assist in developing drugs that can effectively treat breast cancer.
“The most surprising result was that the tumour grafts spread from the original site, or metastasized, just as they did in the human patients,” explained the leader of the research and HCI investigator, Dr Alana Welm.
“For example, grafts of tumour tissue from patients whose cancer had spread to the lung also spread to the lungs of the mice that received them.”
Welm added: “There is also the potential to develop similar models for other cancers using this method. We are already working on this with colon cancer tissues.”
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