TAG: "Cancer"

UCSF researcher wins Burkitt Medal


John Ziegler recognized for his “integrity, compassion and dedication.”

Paul Browne, Trinity College Dublin’s dean of the School of Medicine, left, congratulates John Ziegler for winning the 2014 Burkitt Medal. (Photo courtesy of Trinity College Dublin)

UC San Francisco’s John Ziegler, M.D., M.Sc., has won the 2014 Burkitt Medal, an award given by Trinity College Dublin to recognize people who embody “integrity, compassion and dedication,” similar to characteristics of Denis Burkitt, a Trinity alumnus.

“Dr. Ziegler has made significant contributions to the fields of medical oncology and to global health,” said Owen Smith, professor of medicine and hematology at Trinity College Dublin. “Continuing the legacy of Denis Burkitt, (Ziegler) directed a highly productive research team in Uganda that made dramatic progress to cure a particularly lethal form of childhood cancer. Ziegler’s career amply exemplifies Burkitt’s curiosity, leadership and humanity.”

The Burkitt Medal was presented at a celebratory dinner on Sept. 17 as part of the Ninth International Cancer Conference at Trinity College Dublin.

“I was delighted to be selected for this prestigious award from one of the oldest universities in Europe,” said Ziegler, founding director of Global Health Sciences Graduates Programs Education & Training at UCSF. “Denis Burkitt was my mentor in the early years of my medical career in Uganda. Receiving the Burkitt medal is a great honor.”

Burkitt discovered a cancer of the lymphatic system in 1956 among children in Africa. The disease starts in immune cells called B-cells and is one of the fastest growing human tumors. It can be fatal if left untreated.

“His discovery of Burkitt’s lymphoma opened many doors in cancer research: viral oncogenesis, tumor immunity and, most importantly, the potential for cure with chemotherapy,” Ziegler said. “Burkitt went on to advocate the importance of dietary fiber in health. He was one of my heroes in medicine.”

Leaders at Trinity praise Ziegler and his contributions to the field of cancer research.

“Burkitt’s legacy, celebrated at this event, is continued by Dr. John Ziegler,” said Paul Browne, Trinity College Dublin’s dean of the School of Medicine. “Ziegler’s work on cancer, especially in connection with developing countries, is tremendous.”

Guests from Canada, the United States, Great Britain, Germany, France, Malta, Malaysia and Ireland who were participating in the International Cancer Conference attended the event.

Ziegler received his bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Amherst College, in Amherst, Massachusetts, and his M.D. from Cornell University Medical School in New York City. Following medical house staff training at Bellevue Hospital in New York, he joined the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in 1966, beginning a life-long career in cancer research and care. In 1967 he was assigned to begin a long collaboration with Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, studying Burkitt’s lymphoma and other indigenous cancers. Together with Ugandan counterparts, he developed curative therapies for lymphoma and established a cancer institute that today has expanded to a major center of excellence in sub Saharan Africa.

After five years Ziegler returned to NCI to head clinical oncology, and in 1981 moved to UCSF. The AIDS pandemic made its first appearance in San Francisco, heralded by opportunistic infections and two malignancies: Kaposi’s sarcoma and non Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Ziegler and colleagues made important contributions to this field both in California and back in Uganda. In his later career, earning an M.Sc. in epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Ziegler headed a cancer genetics clinic at UCSF, and most recently was founding director of a global health master’s degree.

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Brain Innovation Group funded for brain tumor tool


National Cancer Institute grant boosts development of optical wand technology.

Laura Marcu, UC Davis

The UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Brain Innovation Group has received a grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to improve brain cancer surgery and treatment using UC Davis-developed biophotonic technology.

The $400,000 grant is the first for the cancer center’s eight cancer research innovation groups, which link scientists, oncologists, surgeons, engineers and other experts in discussions about patient care needs and potential innovations.

“The groups were started to fulfill a big part of our mission as a comprehensive cancer center by enhancing clinical and translational cancer research,” said cancer center director Ralph de Vere White. “This grant is a clear example of the success of this endeavor.”

UC Davis researchers will use the funding to adapt state-of-the-art optical biopsy technology, the Multispectral Scanning-Time Resolved Fluorescence Spectroscopy, to help neurosurgeons distinguish between radiation necrosis and cancer recurrence during brain cancer surgery. The technology was developed by Laura Marcu, professor of biomedical engineering and neurological surgery and principal investigator on the project.

The collaborative Brain Innovation Group includes specialists from adult and pediatric oncology, neurology, neurosurgery, neuroradiology, radiation oncology, biomedical engineering and biophotonics, hematology and biochemistry. They meet once a month in an open forum to present their projects and look for ways to combine and translate their work into high-impact clinical trials.

“This NCI grant demonstrates the benefit of having experts with different backgrounds work together to find new ways to better diagnose and treat cancer,” said Marcu, adding that the idea to apply the novel photonic technology in distinguishing between brain tumor recurrence and radiation necrosis was sparked during an innovation meeting.

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Teens help family of girl with liver cancer


Westside teens ‘aiming to do good wherever good can be done’ aid UCLA patient, her family.

David Mezquita kisses his 4-year-old daughter Vicky, who has liver cancer and is undergoing treatment at Reagan UCLA Medical Center. To help the family pay for nursing care, an organization of Westside teenagers raised money through a garage sale.

When Myra and David Mezquita of the South Bay had triplets, they knew they were blessed even though they had their hands more than full caring for the new arrivals as well as their teenagers.

Then one of the triplets, Vicky, was diagnosed with liver cancer and needed a transplant, which was performed at UCLA in April 2013 by Dr. Ronald Busuttil, distinguished professor and executive chairman of the UCLA Department of Surgery. Things seemed to be going well at first. But sadly, less than a year later, Vicky was diagnosed with recurrent cancer in her new liver.

To eradicate some liver tumors that remained unaffected by the chemotherapy, the 4-year-old underwent chemotherapy and stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), a newer radiation treatment that noninvasively focuses high doses of radiation to kill tumors in a few treatment sessions.

The Mezquitas were juggling treatment appointments and caring for their other children when they lost crucial supplemental funding they had used to pay for nursing care for Vicky. Piling onto the family’s troubles, a utility-sparked fire that occurred about the time of Vicky’s transplant destroyed their backyard, including all the fencing and landscaping, leaving the children no safe place to play. Because of Vicky’s need for intense care following the transplant, no repairs were ever made, said her mother Myra Mezquita.

Members of Teamwork Makes the Dream Work join medical staff and family members at Vicky Mezquita's bedside in Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

Fortunately, some Westside teens who raise money to help sick children through a charity they co-founded, Teamwork Makes the Dream Work, found out about the family’s plight. Guided by the organization’s motto, “Aiming to do good wherever good can be done,” they held their annual garage sale and raised more than $5,100 for Vicky’s family, money that will help them augment her nursing care and create a new backyard for Vicky and her siblings to enjoy.

“We went all over the Westside, from Santa Monica to West Hollywood, gathering donations for the garage sale,” group member Nahal Shakib, 19, of Pacific Palisades said. “It was really important to us to raise a lot of money.”

Shakib and three members from Brentwood — Jasmine Shaouli, 18; Leila Aframian, 17; and Devon Shalom, 17 —  recently presented a check to David Mezquita, who was visiting his daughter while she was in Reagan UCLA Medical Center because of a low white blood cell count caused by the chemotherapy. The teens also brought gifts for Vicky’s siblings as well.

Dr. Julie Kang, a resident in the Department of Radiation Oncology, was able to connect the teens with the Mezquita family through a mutual friend. Kang was there when the check and gifts were presented to the family, along with Vicky’s radiation oncologist, Dr. Percy Lee, who oversaw the radiation treatments, and nurse Adriana Grandpre-Aguiar, who assisted with her care.

“It takes a lot of help to make good things happen,” the grateful father said. “I’m very happy and pleased that everyone joined together as a team to make this happen. I’m very touched.”

Myra Mezquita said that, at times, the circumstances her family is dealing with are “beyond imaginable. I can’t express the magnitude of our gratitude for the support we received from everyone.”

Lee, an associate professor of radiation oncology and director of UCLA’s SBRT program, said he was pleased they were able to treat all the visible cancer with the new radiation therapy. “This little girl has been through a lot in the last four years, and we are hopeful that the treatments give her a fighting chance,” he said.

Lee added that he was glad the family was getting some financial assistance. Even with their money woes, he said, the Mezquita family had recently given him a thoughtful gift card to pay for his lunch at a local eatery.

Kang said it was difficult watching the Mezquitas guide their child through a second bout of liver cancer.

“Parents can sometimes feel so alone in this big battle,” she said. “It’s beyond amazing that these angels came out of nowhere to help them out.”

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Finding a better way to track emerging cell therapies using MRIs


Technique might speed development of relevant therapies.

Cellular therapeutics – using intact cells to treat and cure disease – is a hugely promising new approach in medicine, but it is hindered by the inability of doctors and scientists to effectively track the movements, destination and persistence of these cells in patients without resorting to invasive procedures, like tissue sampling.

In a paper published Sept. 17 in the online journal Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, researchers at the UC San Diego School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh and elsewhere describe the first human tests of using a perfluorocarbon (PFC) tracer in combination with non-invasive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to track therapeutic immune cells injected into patients with colorectal cancer.

“Initially, we see this technique used for clinical trials that involve tests of new cell therapies,” said first author Eric T. Ahrens, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Radiology at UC San Diego. “Clinical development of cell therapies can be accelerated by providing feedback regarding cell motility, optimal delivery routes, individual therapeutic doses and engraftment success.”

Currently, there is no accepted way to image cells in the human body that covers a broad range of cell types and diseases. Earlier techniques have used metal ion-based vascular MRI contrast agents and radioisotopes. The former have proven difficult to differentiate in vivo; the latter raise concerns about radiation toxicity and do not provide the anatomical detail available with MRIs.

“This is the first human PFC cell tracking agent, which is a new way to do MRI cell tracking,” said Ahrens. “It’s the first example of a clinical MRI agent designed specifically for cell tracking.”

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Education matters when it comes to treating prostate cancer


UCLA study finds ‘decisional conflict’ could negatively impact quality of care.

They say knowledge is power, and a new UCLA study has shown this is definitely the case when it comes to men making the best decisions about how to treat their prostate cancer.

UCLA researchers found that men who aren’t well educated about their disease have a much more difficult time making treatment decisions. That challenge, called “decisional conflict,” could negatively impact the quality of their care and their long-term outcomes.

The study should serve as a wake-up call for physicians, who can use the findings to target men less likely to know a lot about their prostate cancer. Doctors can educate patients prior to their appointments so they’re more comfortable making treatment decisions, said the study’s first author Dr. Alan Kaplan, a resident physician in the UCLA Department of Urology.

“For prostate cancer, there is no one right answer when it comes to treatment. It comes down to the right answer for each specific patient, and that is heavily dependent on their own personal preferences,” Kaplan said. “Men in general, and specifically economically disadvantaged men, have a hard time deciding what their preferences are, how they feel about any possible complications and what the future after treatment might be like. If you don’t know anything about your disease, you’ll have a really tough time making a decision.”

The findings from the one-year study appear were published online by the peer-reviewed journal Cancer.

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Drug targeting leukemia cells enters clinical trial


Antibody developed at UC San Diego.

Researchers at the UC San Diego School of Medicine have launched a phase one human clinical trial to assess the safety and efficacy of a new monoclonal antibody for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), the most common form of blood cancer in adults.

The new antibody targets ROR1, a protein used by embryonic cells during early development and exploited by cancer cells to promote tumor growth and metastasis, the latter responsible for 90 percent of all cancer-related deaths.

Because ROR1 is not expressed by normal adult cells, scientists believe it is a biomarker of cancer cells in general and cancer stem cells in particular. Because it appears to drive tumor growth and disease spread, they believe it also presents an excellent target for anti-cancer therapy.

Developed at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center by Thomas Kipps, M.D., Ph.D., who holds the Evelyn and Edwin Tasch Chair in Cancer Research, and colleagues, the antibody is called cirmtuzumab (also known as UC-961). In previous animal studies, Kipps’ team reported that ROR1 is singularly expressed on CLL and also on a variety of different cancers, including cancers of the breast, pancreas, colon, lung and ovary. In mouse models of CLL, ROR1 acts as an accelerant when combined with another oncogene to produce a faster-growing, more aggressive cancer.

Cirmtuzumab was developed under the auspices of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine’s HALT leukemia grant awarded to Dennis Carson, M.D., principal investigator, and Catriona Jamieson, M.D., Ph.D., co-principal investigator to develop six distinct therapies against cancer stem cells. Kipps led one of the six projects and generated antibodies against ROR1, leading to the cirmtuzumab trial in patients with CLL.

“The primary goal of this phase one clinical trial is to evaluate whether cirmtuzumab is a safe and well-tolerated cancer stem cell-targeted agent in patients with CLL,” said Jamieson, chief of the Division of Regenerative Medicine, associate professor of medicine, director of stem cell research at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center, deputy director of the Sanford Stem Cell Clinical Center and a principal investigator of the cirmtuzumab clinical trial.

Michael Choi, M.D., assistant clinical professor of medicine and co-principal investigator of the clinical trial said, “The trial will involve patients with relapsed or refractory CLL, who will receive an intravenous infusion every 14 days at Moores, followed by regular monitoring and clinic visits to assess efficacy and identify and manage any adverse effects. Initial treatment is planned for two months.”

To learn more about eligibility for this clinical trial, call Reilly L. Kidwell at (858) 534-4801 or Samuel Zhang at (858) 534-8127.

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Cancer and immune system: A double-edged sword


Findings have importance for desigining clinical trials with drugs that target immune system.

During cancer development, tumor cells decorate their surfaces with sugar compounds called glycans that are different from those found on normal, healthy cells. In today’s (Sept. 15) online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), researchers at the UC San Diego School of Medicine report that sialic acids at the tips of these cancer cell glycans are capable of engaging with immune system cells and changing the latter’s response to the tumor – for good and bad.

“These cell surface glycans can promote or inhibit cancer progression, depending upon the stage of the disease,” said principal investigator Ajit Varki, M.D., Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Cellular and Molecular Medicine. “Our findings underscore the complexity of cancer and the consequent challenges in conquering it. The immune system may be a double-edged sword in cancer, tumor-promoting or tumor-inhibiting, depending upon circumstances.”

Specifically, the researchers found that receptors called siglecs on subsets of neutrophils and macrophages (two types of immune cell) can bind to sialic acids on the surface of tumor cells. Depending upon the stage of cancer and the tumor model used, the scientists reported that interaction between immune cell siglecs and tumor cell sialic acids produced opposite outcomes.

“During initial stages of growth, cancer cells appear to protect themselves from extermination by neutrophils by engaging siglecs via sialic acid-capped glycans,” said Varki, who is also a faculty member of the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center. “But once the tumor was established, further growth was inhibited by engagement of siglecs on macrophages.”

The findings follow upon research by Varki and colleagues published earlier this year in PNAS that showed anti-tumor antibodies also behave contrarily. Low concentrations of antibodies can support cancer growth, but higher concentrations may inhibit it.

“The fact that the immune system can exert a promoting or inhibiting effect on cancer progression, depending on the situation and stage of disease, has importance for designing clinical trials with drugs that target the immune system,” said first author Heinz Läubli, M.D., Ph.D.

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Targeted leukemia treatment shows promise


UC Davis develops unique treatment approach.

Noriko Satake, UC Davis

Noriko Satake, UC Davis pediatric oncologist and researcher, has demonstrated in laboratory studies that a new, targeted treatment for leukemia is effective.

Satake’s research was published Sept. 9 in the British Journal of Haematology.

“We identified a novel molecular target that is important for the growth of precursor B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common cancer in children,” Satake said. “We developed a unique treatment approach using a drug that blocks the target molecule and kills leukemia cells, a nanoparticle vehicle that carries the drug, and an antibody driver that delivers the nanocomplexes (drug-loaded nanoparticles) to leukemia cells.

“We showed great efficacy of these new drug nanocomplexes on a cell line and on primary leukemia samples,” she added. “We also demonstrated that they had minimal toxicities on normal blood cells.”

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SF celebrates 3 new hospitals with stars, lights and action


UCSF Hard Hat Walk, Lights On Festival draw thousands to Mission Bay.

San Francisco’s Mission Bay district became a melting pot of celebrities, civic dignitaries, community members and assorted creatures of unknown species with dazzling outfits and daring dance moves, as the city marked the upcoming opening of the new UCSF Medical Center.

Thousands joined in Saturday’s revelry, starting with the 5K Hard Hat Walk along the waterfront and through the Mission Bay neighborhood and ending with the Lights On Festival in the public plaza outside the medical center complex. The event culminated in a multicolor light show illuminating the windows of the three hospitals opening on Feb. 1, 2015: UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco, UCSF Bakar Cancer Hospital and UCSF Betty Irene Moore Women’s Hospital.

Donors and attendees of the celebration raised more than $525,000 for the new hospitals, exceeding the fundraising goal of $500,000.

Kicking off the Hard Hat Walk, UCSF Medical Center CEO Mark Laret paid tribute to the construction crew, staff and fundraisers. He urged the crowds to remind themselves that with “every step you take, think about a child whose life is going to be saved in that hospital and a mom who’s going to have an easier birth because of innovations here.”

There was plenty of levity to offset the serious moments.

A number of teams assembled for the walk dressed in fun costumes. UCSF Chief Information Officer Joe Bengfort nixed the sweats in favor of Luke Skywalker duds to lead his team, the Jedi Masters, which raised close to $12,000. The UCSF Cancer Crusaders donned superhero masks and capes; the Children’s Emergency Department team all wore rainbow tutus; and Remembering Maggie McDonald – one of the top patient fundraising teams – sported yellow hard hats in tribute to 19-year-old Maggie, a longtime patient of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco who passed away earlier this year.

At the festival, families enjoyed pastries, tacos and other tasty treats from top local restaurants, while children got their faces painted, participated in wall art, played bungee run and danced to Vocal Rush, a teen a cappella group from the Oakland School for the Arts. Other participants decompressed with chair messages or a snuggle with a friendly possum from the San Francisco Zoo’s Zoomobile.

Adding razzle-dazzle to the event were Jesse Tyler Ferguson, star of the ABC television show “Modern Family,” Olympic champion figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi and San Francisco Giants home run king Barry Bonds, a longtime friend and supporter of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco (“my brother from another mother,” according to Ferguson).

The midafternoon sun had segued into an early evening chill by the time celebrated singer and Bay Area native Michael Franti took the stage. But the audience warmed up dancing to his hits, “I’m Alive” and “Say Hey.”

At his invitation, a group of patients joined him on stage. The new hospitals were very personal to him, Franti explained, because his 15-year-old son had been a long-term patient at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco. The audience nodded in unison, knowing the hospitals will play a key role in their health and that of their loved ones for generations to come.

David Chiu, president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, said it best when he addressed the crowd: “This is a moment in time so special for San Francisco.”

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FDA approves new melanoma drug


The drug is a ‘game changer,’ says UCLA’s Dr. Antoni Ribas, the study’s principal investigator.

UCLA's Dr. Antoni Ribas (right) with Tom Stutz, whose health improved dramatically after treatment with the newly approved drug.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today (Sept.4) approved a new immunotherapy drug to treat advanced melanoma, signaling a paradigm shift in the way the deadly skin cancer is treated.

The drug, Keytruda, was tested on more than 600 patients who had melanoma that had spread throughout their bodies. Because so many of the patients in the early testing showed significant long-lasting responses, the study was continued and the FDA granted the drug “breakthrough therapy” status, allowing it to be fast-tracked for approval.

The largest phase one study in the history of oncology, the research was conducted at UCLA and 11 other sites in the U.S., Europe and Australia.

Keytruda, formerly known as MK-3475, is an antibody that targets a protein called PD-1 that is expressed by immune cells. The protein puts the immune system’s brakes on, keeping its T cells from recognizing and attacking cancer cells, said Dr. Antoni Ribas, the study’s principal investigator and a professor of medicine in the division of hematology–oncology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

For many years, when using immunotherapy to fight cancer, doctors’ strategy has been to bolster the immune system so it could kill the cancer cells. But the approach had limited success because PD-1 prevented the immune system from becoming active enough to attack the cancer. Keytruda, in effect, cuts the brake lines, freeing up the immune system to attack the cancer.

“This drug is a game changer, a very significant advance in the treatment of melanoma,” said Ribas, who also is a researcher at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. “For patients who have not responded to prior therapies, this drug now provides a very real chance to shrink their tumors and the hope of a lasting response to treatment.”

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UCSF doctor receives leadership award from National Cancer Institute


Will support Katie Kelley’s efforts related to gastrointestinal cancer.

Katie Kelley, UC San Francisco

Katie Kelley, M.D., a gastrointestinal oncologist at UC San Francisco, has received the 2014 Cancer Clinical Investigator Team Leadership Award from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). This highly competitive category was open to members at certified cancer centers only. The award, a $100,000 supplement to the Cancer Center Support Grant over a two-year period, will support Kelley’s effort related to her clinical leadership roles.

Her clinical research focus lies in the design and conduct of clinical trials of novel targeted agents and combination therapies in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and cancers of the biliary tract.

Her translational research efforts have already enriched the research environment within UCSF. Specifically, Kelley has taken the lead role in addressing the critical need to better understand the complex tumor biology and identify therapeutic targets in hepatobiliary cancers at UCSF.

Kelley began her training and experience in clinical research during the research phase of her fellowship in hematology/oncology at UCSF in 2007 when she joined the Gastrointestinal Oncology Group. As a fellow, Kelley completed the UCSF Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) course, “Training in Clinical Research” in 2008 and received extensive informal training from mentors in GI Oncology, including Alan Venook, M.D.; Margaret Tempero, M.D.; Emily Bergsland, M.D.; and Andrew Ko, M.D.

With support from this award, Kelley will continue her leadership roles and participation in institutional and multisite trials at the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center (HDFCCC) and will apply her training, education and leadership skills to the leadership of the Clinical Research Support Office as its director.

Kelley’s long-term goal is to build upon her training and experience in translational clinical research, multidisciplinary collaborations, and experience as an executive officer for a National Clinical Trial Network to build a program in hepatobiliary cancers at UCSF as well as to contribute substantively to the design and conduct of clinical research across the HDFCCC. Former HDFCCC recipients include Ko, who received the award in 2012.

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Researchers ID enzyme that controls spread of breast cancer


UC San Diego findings offer hope for treatment.

A tumor with reduced levels of enzyme UBC13 (top) and a control tumor (bottom) that has spread to the lungs.

Researchers at the UC San Diego School of Medicine have identified an enzyme that controls the spread of breast cancer. The findings, reported in the current issue of PNAS, offer hope for the leading cause of breast cancer mortality worldwide. An estimated 40,000 women in America will die of breast cancer in 2014, according to the American Cancer Society.

“The take-home message of the study is that we have found a way to target breast cancer metastasis through a pathway regulated by an enzyme,” said lead author Xuefeng Wu, Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher at UC San Diego.

The enzyme, called UBC13, was found to be present in breast cancer cells at two to three times the levels of normal healthy cells. Although the enzyme’s role in regulating normal cell growth and healthy immune system function is well-documented, the study is among the first to show a link to the spread of breast cancer.

Specifically, Wu and colleagues with the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center found that the enzyme regulates cancer cells’ ability to transmit signals that stimulate cell growth and survival by regulating the activity of a protein called p38 which when “knocked down” prevents metastasis. Of clinical note, the researchers said a compound that inhibits the activation of p38 is already being tested for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

In their experiments, scientists took human breast cancer cell lines and used a lentivirus to silence the expression of both the UBC13 and p38 proteins. These altered cancer cells were then injected into the mammary tissues of mice.  Although the primary tumors grew in these mice, their cancers did not spread.

“Primary tumors are not normally lethal,” Wu said. “The real danger is cancer cells that have successfully left the primary site, escaped through the blood vessels and invaded new organs. It may be only a few cells that escape, but they are aggressive. Our study shows we may be able to block these cells and save lives.”

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