WASHINGTONBreast cancer patients with high levels of hepatocyte growth factor exhibit higher rates of proliferation and poorer prognosis, Wen G. Jiang, MD, of the University of Wales, Cardiff, said at the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation grants conference. But a newly discovered antagonist to this factor may be used to reduce metastasis.
Hepatocyte growth factoralso called scatter factoris produced by stromal cells and has been found in vitro to increase the migration and motility of tumor cells and to elevate levels of angiogenic factors. In the first stage of the metastatic cascade, scatter factor causes endothelial cells to detach and disperse. However, the antagonist, NK4, appears to reduce their invasiveness.
"NK4 is purely an antagonist and has no effect alone," Dr. Jiang said. "But it acts on scatter factor to suppress the invasion of cancer cells and reduce migration." In addition, he said, in his studies, NK4 prevented breast cancer cells from penetrating barriers in the basement membrane and extracellular matrix of tissues, and in the endothelial cells of blood vessels. It also inhibits angiogenesis.
"NK4 inhibits the aggressive behavior of breast cancer," he said, "and may provide a new avenue of treatment for this disease."