Danish and British scientists have discovered that a severe type of breast cancer known as oestrogen receptor negative spreads to bones when a tumor in the breast sends a special enzyme into the body, according to a ScienceNordic article.
“The cancer cells in an oestrogen-receptor-negative tumor emit an enzyme called Lysyl oxidase (LOX). The higher the level of LOX, which is secreted by the tumor, the greater is the risk of the cancer spreading to the bones,” says Janine Erler, research leader at the Biotech Research and Innovation Centre at The University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
The LOX enzyme activates cells in the body that create holes in bones, allowing the cancer cells to penetrate, according to Erler.
Their research shows that breast tumors send enzymes into the blood when they do not get enough oxygen. The holes allow for cancer cells circulating in the bloodstream to enter the bone where they begin to grow. The cancer cells do not destroy the bone; it is already damaged, notes the ScienceNordic article.
The findings could lead to new treatments to stop the effect of the LOX enzyme in patients with high levels of it. The study’s findings were recently published in the scientific journal Nature.