An innovative way to model human breast cancer could lead to new tools for predicting which breast cancers will spread and new ways to test drugs that may stop its spread.
Researchers at the University of Utah grafted tumour tissue directly into mouse mammary glands, rather than using the traditional approach of growing or culturing cells in the laboratory.
The grafts remained virtually identical to the original human breast cancer in structure, genetic makeup and behaviour, unlike cell culture methods.
Dr Alana Welm, the study's principal investigator, stated: "The most surprising result was that the tumour grafts spread from the original site, or metastised, just as they did in the human patients." The results revealed the potential of the tool to identify whether tumours will spread.
While CT and PET scans can detect if and how breast cancer has spread, a tool has yet to be discovered that can predict if and how cancer will spread.
The discovery will improve the detection and characterisation of cancer cells, which could in turn lead to better and more direct treatment.
Find the nearest Barchester care home.