IRB Barcelona ID’s Overexpressed MAF Oncogene As Key to Metastasis of Breast Cancer to Bone

Physicians currently have no tools to help them detect which breast cancer patients will suffer metastasis to the bone, a process that occurs in 15-20% of cases. A study led by ICREA (Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies) researcher Dr. Roger Gomis at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), and published online on September 16, 2015 in an open-access article in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI), has uncovered a gene that allows breast cancer cells to invade bones and create new tumors, or to metastasize. This discovery has been patented and transferred to Inbiomotion, a spin off from the IRB Barcelona and ICREA, founded at the end of 2010. Inbiomotion, led by the venture investor Ysios Capital, has developed the technology necessary to validate the marker in clinical trials, which are already underway. The JNCI article is titled “Enhanced MAF Oncogene Expression and Breast Cancer Bone Metastasis.” Bone metastasis is the only type of metastasis that can be controlled, but not cured, by drugs. Treatment is only given once the metastasis has been identified, which is normally too late. Preliminary studies indicate that the same drugs used to treat metastasis could also be used to prevent it, and identifying those patients at risk of developing bone metastasis is therefore very important. “This is where the discovery made at IRB Barcelona could be of great use to clinicians and would avoid unnecessary treatment of patients who are not at risk," suggests Dr. Gomis. About one million new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed each year.
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