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Researchers of the CIMA of the University of Navarra have halted bone metastasis of lung cancer in animal models

The scientific journal ‘Cancer Research' has published the results of this study, which focuses on 4 genes

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FOTO: Manuel Castells
22/04/08 19:50 Mª Pilar Huarte

A team from the Center for Applied Medical Research (CIMA) of the University of Navarra has discovered the mechanism whereby lung cancer tumor cells destroy bone. As a result of this discovery, which has been published in the scientific journal Cancer Research, the researchers have identified the keys to halting this malignant process in animal models.

Future research may result in clinical trials for its application in humans. According to the statistics, around 30,000 new cases of lung cancer are diagnosed every year in Spain. In 30-40% of the cases, the tumor spreads to the patients' bones. Bone metastasis is frequently detected quite late, when the cancer itself has already been detected. Lung cancer causes approximately 20,000 deaths each year in Spain.

A step towards controlling this metastasis

The researcher who has directed this project is Dr. Fernando Lecanda, head of the Adhesion and Metastasis Laboratory of the CIMA. He explained that patients with bone metastasis suffer pain that is poorly treatable, fractures, immobility caused by the compression of the spinal cord, and other disorders.

At the moment, there do not exist effective drug therapies to treat this problem, which is currently irreversible. Dr. Lecanda believes that this research project will eventually lead to the possibility for designing drugs that detain the metastatic process, which involves 4 genes: PRKD3, MCAM, SUSD5 and TCF4.

Also involved in this research project are other scientists from two areas of the CIMA of the University of Navarra: Fernando Lecanda, Iker Antón, Ignacio García-Tuñón and Diego Luis-Ravelo, of Oncology; and Francisco Borrás and Javier Dotor, of Genetic Therapy and Hepatology.

Other specialists who participated in the project include Silvestre Vicent, a researcher of the CIMA who is currently performing postdoctoral studies at the University of Stanford (USA), and Javier de las Rivas, Director of the Functional Genomics Group of the Cancer Research Center (CIC) of the University of Salamanca.