Cancer becomes most deadly when it's on the move - jumping from the breast to the brain or the pancreas to the liver and then onward.
But now, a team of Stanford researchers led by radiation biologist Amato Giaccia, PhD, and bioengineer Jennifer Cochran, PhD, have created a protein that may be able to thwart the metastasis.
They published their results this week in Nature Chemical Biology.
"This is a very promising therapy that appears to be effective and nontoxic in preclinical experiments," Giaccia said in a Stanford release. "It could open up a new approach to cancer treatment."
The researchers created a protein that mimics Axl, a protein found on the surface of cancer cells. This decoy protein intercepts incoming messages - intended for the original Axl - cueing the cancer cells to find a new home.
The decoy Axl worked wonders in mice. Mice with breast cancer given the treatment had 78 percent fewer new tumors, and mice with ovarian cancer had 90 percent fewer new tumors than mice with cancer not given the treatment.
Becky Bach is a former park ranger who now spends her time writing about science or practicing yoga. She's a science-writing intern in the Office of Communications and Public Affairs.
Previously: Studying the drivers of metastasis to combat cancer, A computer kit could lead to a better way to design synthetic molecules, Common drug class targets breast cancer stem cells, may benefit more patients, says study
Photo by Rod Searcey