Researchers led by Dr. Yves St-Pierre at INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier, Québec, Canada implicate galectin-7 as a breast cancer differentiation marker.
They report their data in the May 2010 issue of The American Journal of Pathology.
Breast cancer is the second-most common type of non-skin cancer and the fifth-most common cause of cancer death world-wide. Breast cancer is 100-times more common in women than in men.
The protein galectin-7, which leads to cell death, is expressed in and plays a metastatic role in various types of cancer. To determine the role of galectin-7 in breast cancer, Demers et al investigated galectin-7 expression and function in breast cancer cells. Galectin-7 was highly expressed in two pre-clinical models of breast cancer, and high galectin-7 expression levels increased the metastatic potential of these tumor cells. In humans, high expression levels of galectin-7 were restricted to high-grade tumors and were associated with metastasis. Taken together, these data implicate galectin-7 as both a breast cancer differentiation marker and a potential therapeutic target for metastatic breast cancer.
Dr. St.-Pierre and colleagues "believe that lower survival rates and increased metastases in mice injected with breast cancer cells overexpressing galectin-7 are related to the ability of galectin-7 to protect from apoptosis, as previously shown in the case of galectin-3. … Further studies regarding the role of galectin-7 in resistance to apoptosis are currently under investigation."
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