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Weapon of bone destruction identified

Enzyme finding may aid hunt for new anticancer therapies

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2:00pm, August 24, 2016
multiple myeloma in mouse bones

NO HOLES BARRED  Mouse femurs (shown in X-rays) with multiple myeloma growing in the bone marrow develop holes and weak spots (middle, red arrows). Treating mice with a drug that inhibits an enzyme responsible for kick-starting the destruction prevents much of the bone loss (right).

A blood cancer uses a secret weapon for tearing bone apart. That same mechanism may allow breast cancer and other types of tumors to spread to bones, a new study suggests.

In patients with the blood cancer multiple myeloma, an enzyme called thymidine phosphorylase sets off a chain reaction that leads to bone destruction, researchers report August 24 in Science Translational Medicine. Drugs that inhibit the enzyme caused mice to lose less bone.

The findings may lead to new therapies for stopping bone loss from multiple myeloma or other cancers that spread to bone. Halting bone destruction may even make bones less hospitable for tumors, stopping their growth, too, says Jing Yang, a cancer researcher at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Multiple myeloma is a cancer that grows in bone marrow. Myeloma cells talk directly to bone-remodeling cells. The

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