Collagen plays an important part in breast cancer metastasis: Study – Deccan Herald


Collagen type XII is essential for controlling how the tumour matrix is organised, according to a recent study from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research. 

High levels of collagen XII can cause breast cancer cells to metastasize, or spread from the primary tumour to different parts of the body, according to research conducted by a team of scientists led by Associate Professor Thomas Cox, Head of the Matrix and Metastasis lab. 

The extracellular matrix is a part of the ecosystem that surrounds a tumour and is known as the tumour microenvironment. Cancer cells and the tumour microenvironment are constantly interacting, which has an impact on how a tumour develops. 

Although collagen plays a significant role in the tumour microenvironment, it is unclear how exactly collagen affects tumours. According to the research, it may be possible to use measuring the amount of collagen XII in a patient’s tumour biopsy as an additional screening tool to find metastatic breast cancers that are more likely to be aggressive, like the triple-negative variety. 

In addition, future therapies might consider targeting collagen XII. According to the first author, Michael Papanicolaou from Garvan, said: “Collagen XII seems to be changing the properties of the tumour and making it more aggressive.” 

It modifies the organisation of collagens to facilitate cancer cells escaping from the tumour and travelling to other locations, such as the lungs. 

The team then altered collagen XII production using genetic engineering and examined the outcomes of metastasis to other organs. They discovered that metastasis increased along with collagen XII levels. 

These findings were later confirmed in human tumour biopsies, which demonstrated that high levels of collagen XII are linked to worse overall survival rates and higher metastasis. More human samples will be studied in future research, along with potential therapeutic pathways.

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