New research is providing clues as to how breast cancer cells alter bone cells. This is pretty big news, because breast cancer becomes deadlier and harder to treat if it spreads to the bone. By understanding how breast cancer gains a foothold into bone, scientists can hopefully get a step ahead of it.
There is a specific enzyme called LOX that appears in higher levels in patients with breast cancers that have spread. By working with mice, researchers found that LOX alters the process of bone re-building in the body. Bone breaks down and rebuilds in the body all the time, but LOX disrupts this process and leaves holes in the bone. This provides a place for breast cancer cells to grab on and grow.
Further animal studies suggested that certain osteoporosis drugs could prevent breast cancer from spreading. By understanding how breast cancer ‘creates’ an ideal environment for growth, researchers can now focus on how to stop these cancer cells in their tracks. Read more about this research here.