Main Menu

Key Enzyme Found for Cancer Spread

Scientists have discovered a crucial piece in the cancer jigsaw, identifying one key enzyme responsible for allowing cancer to spread, according to a study published in Cancer Cell.


Cancer metastasis, the spreading of cancer from its original location, is responsible for 90 per cent of cancer related deaths.


Lead researcher Dr Janine Erler from The Institute of Cancer Research has discovered that the LOX enzyme is crucial in promoting metastasis and says:


“This research has identified how to prevent a cancer from establishing itself in a new area of the body. This is the crucial missing piece in the jigsaw that scientists have been searching for and is the first time one key enzyme has been identified as being responsible for effectively allowing the cancer to spread.


“LOX works by sending out signals to prepare a new area of the body for the cancer to set up camp. Without this preparation process the new environment would be too hostile for the cancer to grow. If we can interrupt the body’s ability to prepare new locations for the cancer to spread to, we can effectively prevent cancer metastasis.”


The paper looked specifically at how LOX enables the spread of breast cancer, but researchers have evidence that the enzyme is also crucial in the metastasis of other common cancers.


The Institute of Cancer Research hopes to use the discovery of how LOX works to aid the spread of cancer to develop new drug treatments to prevent cancer metastasis.


“Cancer metastasis is very difficult to treat and this new discovery provides real hope that we can develop a drug which will fight the spreading of cancer,” Dr Erler said.


The speed at which a drug can be developed largely depends on funding. Help donate towards Dr Erler’s research into developing a new drug to prevent cancer metastasis.



Additional statistics
• More than 12,300 women die of breast cancer in the UK each year and an estimated 90 per cent of those die as a result of cancer metastasis.

The Institute of Cancer Research
The Institute of Cancer Research is Europe’s leading cancer research centre with expert scientists working on cutting edge research. In 2009, The Institute marks its 100 years of world leading research into cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment. The Institute is a charity that relies on voluntary income. It is one of the world’s most cost-effective major cancer research organisations with over 95p in every £ directly supporting research. For more information visit 


For media queries please call Krista Eleftheriou on 0207 153 5430 or email [email protected]

comments powered by Disqus