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Metasatic Breast Cancer Research

Huntsman Cancer Institute MBC research focuses on better understanding the tumor-host interactions that facilitate metastasis, with the ultimate goal of discovering new, improved cancer therapies.

Death from breast cancer is largely attributed to metastasis—when the disease spreads to other tissues. In order to metastasize, cancer cells must be able to invade the local tissue, escape from the primary site, enter into and survive in the bloodstream or lymphatic system, pass from the blood vessels into other organs, and adapt to or modify the new site to create a new tumor.

The molecular mechanisms used by tumor cells to facilitate metastasis are largely unknown, as are the processes by which our normal, healthy cells paradoxically support tumor growth and metastasis.

Patients with the most aggressive forms of breast cancer die because the disease spreads to other organs, or becomes metastatic. Researcher Alana Welm, a professor at Huntsman Cancer Institute has discovered a new way by which breast cancer metastasis works, and how to stop it. Researchers around the world are working to try and find answers to why breast cancer becomes metastatic.

Alana Welm Research Lab

The Alana Welm research lab is focused exclusively on metastatic breast cancer research. 

"The research in our laboratory is focused on the mechanisms of breast tumorigenesis and metastasis. Despite the fact that death from breast cancer is largely attributed to metastasis, we still don’t understand the mechanisms governing this complicated process, and there are currently no drugs designed specifically to block or prevent metastasis. Thus, a key challenge is to understand the molecular mechanisms by which each step of metastasis occurs, and then to identify therapeutic targets that prevent metastasis.

We have developed new, complementary in vitro and in vivo approaches to gain a better understanding of breast tumorigenesis and metastasis. We developed a new model system to efficiently study breast cancer and metastasis in mice without generation of transgenic animals. Using these methods, we discovered that macrophage stimulating protein (MSP) is an important facilitator of breast cancer metastasis."

source: Alana Well research lab home page