A recent study conducted by Dr. Aouad, in the research laboratory of Prof. Brisken sheds light on mechanisms of breast cancer recurrence. Estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer patients remain at lifelong risk for relapse. This is partly due to tumor cells migrating away from the tumor site very early during the initial tumor formation, and which remain dormant at distant sites in the body.
In their new study, the team has revealed that these dormant cells possess the ability to switch reversibly between static and more mobile states, and that stabilization of the migratory (mesenchymal) cell state is critical to prevent recurrence. These findings highlight the therapeutic potential of targeting this mechanism for prevention of cancer recurrence.
Aouad P, Zhang Y, De Martino F, Stibolt C, Ali S, Ambrosini G, Mani SA, Maggs K, Quinn HM, Sflomos G, Brisken C. Epithelial-mesenchymal plasticity determines estrogen receptor positive breast cancer dormancy and epithelial reconversion drives recurrence. Nat Commun. 2022 Aug 25;13(1):4975. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-32523-6. PMID: 36008376; PMCID: PMC9411634.