Breast cancer treatment may become more effective due to new research which has found a biological pathway that could be the target for future drug therapies.
Scientists working at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans found a change in the body's inherent defence system that could allow tumours in the breast to spread to other regions of the body.
The ISG15 pathway is usually employed to fight off bacterial and viral infections, but the researchers observed that in breast cancer patients it alters a cell's cytoskeleton and in turn facilitates the spread of tumours.
"Our findings, for the first time, causally link an alteration in the ISG15 pathway during transformation with metastatic potential," stated Dr Shyamal Desai, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the clinical facility.
He added that new drugs could be developed to take advantage of the work.
According to Cancer Research UK, breast cancer is the most common form of the illness in the UK.