A team of Danish researchers have discovered that by blocking a specific enzyme, it is possible to check the spread of cancer in the body. This finding may be the first step towards preventing deaths due to cancer spreading to other parts of the body. The discovery may also help reduce the amount of chemotherapy used.
The discovery, which was recently published in the prestigious International Journal of Cancer, was made by a research team from the Finsen Laboratory at Copenhagen University Hospital – Rigshospitalet and the Institute of Molecular Biology at the University of Copenhagen. “What is special about the enzyme – urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA) – is that the cancer needs the enzyme in order to spread throughout the body, but the body does not need the enzyme to function normally. This means that we should be able to block the enzyme and thereby check the spread of the cancer without causing the strong side effects for the patients that we see with other forms of therapy today,” says Morten Johnsen, Institute of Molecular Biology, University of Copenhagen.
“When women discover a lump in their breast, it can be removed. But if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the lungs, then it can become life-threatening. So we’ve come a long way towards being able to limit the spread of the cancer in the body,” says Kasper Almholt, PhD, Finsen Laboratory.
Associate Prof. Morten Johnsen | alfa
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