E. Borgen et al identified a protein marker that can indicate the chances of reoccurrence and lethality of metastatic cancer in breast cancer patients. The researchers found a correlation between the low amounts of a protein NR2F1 (COUP-TF1) in bone marrow (BM) aspirations of patients whose breast cancer tumour had metastasized to BM and had led to sudden demise. Patients who had high concentrations of NR2F1 in the cancer cells in their bone marrow, however, did not frequently develop this type of metastatic cancer and survived longer. The presence of high concentration of NR2F1 was found related to dormancy of the disseminated tumour cells (DTC). Thus NR2F1 detection in BM DTCs may be a promising tool to determine the phenotype of DTCs and the prognosis of breast cancer patients. The study
paves the way for testing new treatments that prevent metastasis
by inducing dormancy or eradicating the dormant disseminated cancer cells that have not yet initiated metastatic growth. The researchers suggest that markers such as NR2F1 coupled with DTC genetics and other host-derived indicators may provide a breakthrough in the management of minimal residual disease (MRD) and metastasis prevention.
Breast Cancer Research2018 https://doi.org/10.1186/s13058-018-1049 /16 October 2018