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Running a cancer roadblock

Research details how breast tumors thwart a protective piece of RNA

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3:53pm, February 3, 2011

A small piece of RNA forms a big roadblock for breast cancer cells trying to spread away from the original tumor.

This scrap of genetic material, a microRNA dubbed miR-335, stops tumor cells from making key proteins that allow the cells to move around the body. Now, researchers at Rockefeller University and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, both in New York City, have found out how breast cancer cells get around the miR-335 roadblock. The microRNA also keeps cancer cells that do escape from establishing new tumors, the team reports in the Feb. 1 Genes & Development.

The findings are important for understanding the basic biology of how tumor cells migrate. Cancer’s spread, or metastasis, to other parts of the body is one of the main reasons cancer kills, says Khalid Sossey-Alaoui, a cancer biologist at the Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute. So stopping tumor cells from spreading could be an important step

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