A protein that breast, lung and other cancers use to promote their spread to the brain has been identified by a team of scientists in the United States.
According to an article published on Science Daily, the scientists found that this particular protein, which they called CEMIP, prompts blood vessel and resident immune cells in the brain to produce inflammatory molecules, which in turn support the survival and progression of cancer cells to form brain tumors.
The test conducted on patients with breast and lung tumors showed that the protein manages to restrain cancer cells and prevent them from spreading to the brain, a process called metastasis.
Scientists discovered that higher CEMIP production causes cancerous cells to spread to the brain, and if the production of this protein is limited, it is highly likely that metastasis can be prevented.
Metastases to the brain are the most lethal form of spreading but are also relatively common, occurring in an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 cancer patients each year in the U.S.