Investigational Drug Could Help Prevent Bone Degradation in Breast Cancer Patients

Investigational Drug Could Help Prevent Bone Degradation in Breast Cancer Patients
A new oral drug in a first-in-human clinical trial has shown promise in inhibiting the bone degradation caused by breast cancer cells, say researchers from the University of Utah's Huntsman Cancer Institute. "When breast cancer spreads to the bones, it causes destruction of the bone. It's a similar process to what happens in osteoporosis [bone degradation due to hormone or vitamins deficiency], except to a much greater extent," senior researcher Alana Welm said in a press release. "The cancer causes bone to be eaten up. So you quite literally get holes in the skeleton." In a previous study published in PNAS, Welm and her colleagues showed that 40 percent of breast cancers have high levels of macrophage stimulating protein (MSP), which was found to be partly responsible for the formation of bone metastasis in breast cancer. Now, in the study, “RON kinase: A target for treatment of cancer-induced bone destruction and osteoporosis,” and published in Science Translational Medicine, the researchers described the process behind bone metastasis formation via MSP activity. They found that a specific receptor called RON, present at the surface of osteoclasts – specialized cells that in healthy people maintain and repair bones – binds to the MSP protein produced by cancer cells. This process activates the osteoclas
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