Researchers from the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, in co-operation with the University of Turku, Indiana University in the US, and two Turku-based companies, Biotie Therapies and Pharmatest, have discovered new information in breast cancer metastasis. Their experiments on mice indicate that heparin-like compounds can possibly inhibit the spread of breast cancer to bone. The findings were published in the online journal Molecular Cancer Research in April.
Using breast cancer cell screening, the researchers from VTT discovered a heparan sulphate modifying HS6ST2 enzyme which regulates the interaction between cancer cells and bone, important in the genesis of bone metastasis. The anticoagulant heparin was also shown to play a role in regulating the mechanism important for this interaction.
According to the results, heparin-like compounds reduce the growth of breast cancer cells in bone and the ensuing bone destruction. One of these heparin-like compounds was developed by Biotie Therapies. Its anticoagulant effect is considerably smaller than that of heparin, which means it is better suited for development as a therapeutic agent in the treatment of breast cancer.
Breast cancer mortality is largely linked to metastasis to bone, for which there is currently no cure.