Research from Lund University in Sweden shows that the protein COMP, which mainly exists in cartilage, can also be found in breast cancer tumours in patients with a poor prognosis. Studies on mice also showed that COMP contributed to the development and metastasis of the breast cancer.
COMP (Cartilage Oligomeric Matrix Protein) is a protein that so far has mainly been studied in cartilage tissue, where it helps development of a normal structure of the tissue. COMP is also used as an indicator of cartilage damage in joint diseases.
High expression of COMP in breast cancer cells, seen here in brown, is associated with poor clinical prognosis for the patient. Cancer cells expressing COMP become more invasive and change their metabolism, which allows them to survive better and spread to other organs.
Photo: Anna Bloms / Lund University
Through a database search, the research group at Lund University discovered a clue that sparked their interest in studying whether COMP may also be linked to breast cancer.
"We did not expect to find COMP in connection with breast cancer, and we were also surprised by the strong effect it had on the development of breast cancer in mice", says Emelie Englund, Doctor of Medical Science at the Department of Translational Medicine at Lund University.
The results are based on a clinical study of breast tissue from a little more than 600 women with breast cancer. Various amounts of COMP were found in both the tumours and the surrounding tissue, but never in healthy breast tissue. Women with high levels of COMP experienced increased metastasis, less time before a relapse, and increased mortality.
"We saw a clear association between high levels of COMP and a worse breast cancer prognosis. With more research, COMP has the potential of becoming an indicator of aggressive breast cancer, and thereby providing early and valuable information before deciding on an appropriate treatment", says Anna Blom, Professor in Protein Chemistry at Lund University.
Following the clinical study, the research group continued with studies on the molecular mechanisms that may explain the effect COMP has on the breast cancer development. The studies, including one on mice, showed that COMP not only contributed to a more rapid growth of the primary tumour, but also to formation of metastases. COMP made the cancer cells more resistant to natural cell death, as well as affected the cell metabolism, making the breast environment less favourable to healthy cells.
The research group is now initiating advanced studies on COMP and the molecular processes that take place during cell metabolism. They are also conducting studies on other changed cellular processes linked to COMP and tumour formation in the breast. Preliminary discoveries indicate that the protein may be significant in terms of the development of prostate cancer as well.
The results are published in the American journal Oncogene. The research is funded by the Swedish Cancer Society, the Malmö Hospital Foundation for Fighting Against Cancer, the Swedish Research Council and through so-called ALF funding for clinical research, among others.
Publication: "Cartilage Oligomeric Matrix Protein (COMP) Contributes to the Development and Metastasis of Breast Cancer"
Authors: Emelie Englund (fmr Holmquist), Michael Bartoschek, Bart Reitsma, Laila Jacobsson, Astrid Escudero-Esparza, Akira Orimo, Karin Leandersson, Catharina Hagerling, Anders Aspberg, Petter Storm, Marcin Okroj, Hindrik Mulder, Karin Jirström, Kristian Pietras and Anna M. Blom. Oncogene published online 11 April 2016; doi: 10.1038/onc.2016.98
Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among women, with more than 7 000 new cases in Sweden every year. Nowadays patients have a good chance of survival, but the treatment is often associated with major consequences and suffering for the patient, following medication, radiation therapy and surgery.
Anna Blom, Professor in Protein Chemistry, Department of Translational Medicine, Lund University,
Tel: +46 (0)40-33 82 33, 070-415 06 82
Cecilia Schubert | EurekAlert!
Scientists discover the basics of how pressure-sensing Piezo proteins work
22.08.2019 | Weill Cornell Medicine
Protein-transport discovery may help define new strategies for treating eye disease
22.08.2019 | Scripps Research Institute
Since their experimental discovery, magnetic skyrmions - tiny magnetic knots - have moved into the focus of research. Scientists from Hamburg and Kiel have now been able to show that individual magnetic skyrmions with a diameter of only a few nanometres can be stabilised in magnetic metal films even without an external magnetic field. They report on their discovery in the journal Nature Communications.
The existence of magnetic skyrmions as particle-like objects was predicted 30 years ago by theoretical physicists, but could only be proven experimentally in...
Theoretical physicists at Trinity College Dublin are among an international collaboration that has built the world's smallest engine - which, as a single calcium ion, is approximately ten billion times smaller than a car engine.
Work performed by Professor John Goold's QuSys group in Trinity's School of Physics describes the science behind this tiny motor.
Together with the University of Innsbruck, the ETH Zurich and Interactive Fully Electrical Vehicles SRL, Infineon Austria is researching specific questions on the commercial use of quantum computers. With new innovations in design and manufacturing, the partners from universities and industry want to develop affordable components for quantum computers.
Ion traps have proven to be a very successful technology for the control and manipulation of quantum particles. Today, they form the heart of the first...
Experimental progress towards engineering quantized gauge fields coupled to ultracold matter promises a versatile platform to tackle problems ranging from condensed-matter to high-energy physics
The interaction between fields and matter is a recurring theme throughout physics. Classical cases such as the trajectories of one celestial body moving in the...
Soft robots have a distinct advantage over their rigid forebears: they can adapt to complex environments, handle fragile objects and interact safely with humans. Made from silicone, rubber or other stretchable polymers, they are ideal for use in rehabilitation exoskeletons and robotic clothing. Soft bio-inspired robots could one day be deployed to explore remote or dangerous environments.
Most soft robots are actuated by rigid, noisy pumps that push fluids into the machines' moving parts. Because they are connected to these bulky pumps by tubes,...
16.08.2019 | Event News
14.08.2019 | Event News
12.08.2019 | Event News
23.08.2019 | Medical Engineering
23.08.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering
23.08.2019 | Life Sciences