Integrin β3 as a therapeutic target for breast cancer metastasis to bone

Start Year: 2008
Finish Year: 2010
Chief Investigator: Miss Rachel Carter
Grant Type: Fellowships
Institution: Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

Doctoral Research Scholarship

Alternative Title: Blocking the spread of breast cancer to bone

Current treatments are ineffective when breast tumours have spread to distant sites (metastasis). In particular, bone metastasis occurs in 70% of advanced breast cancer patients and causes severe morbidity. Cell surface receptors that promote cell attachment and movement are critical for the spread of tumours.

One such receptor, β3 integrin, is present on breast tumour, bone and blood cells and has been implicated in the spread of breast tumour cells but its role in bone metastasis is still unclear due to the lack of an appropriate model.

Miss Carter aimed to clarify the critical cell types expressing β3 integrin that are required for metastasis to bone and measure the therapeutic benefit of novel inhibitors targeting β3 integrin using a unique model of breast cancer metastasis to bone.

It has been shown that multiple cell types expressing β3 integrin contribute to bone metastases and that blocking the action of this receptor prevents tumour spread to bone, thus implicating the development of novel therapies for bone metastasis and benefiting advanced breast cancer patients for whom the mortality rate remains unacceptably high.