Breast cancer metastasis is a type of breast cancer in which malignant tumor cells spread from their origins to other parts of the body. The most common sites of spreading are liver, bones, and lungs. The most important component of the immune system that protects breast cancer from metastasis is a cluster of cells called natural killer cells. Some scientists have observed that breast tumor cells impair the activity of natural killer cells, but this theory is not yet clearly understood.

How function of natural killer cells is being altered?

Some scientists at Johns Hopkins University have pointed out that breast cancer cells alter the function of natural cells. Natural cells begin to metastasize cancer cells instead of inhibiting them.  An article in the Journal of Cell Biology states that small particles of DNA methyltransferase (DNAMT’s) should be combined with antibodies. When TIGIT and KLRG1 proteins are targeted, this mixture inhibits the process of metastasis. This is how the spreading of cancer cells can be reduced.

Validation of Theory

Natural killer cells innovate breast cancer cells and promote cancer cells instead of defending the body. To test this theory, researchers cultured natural killer cells and tumor cells in one dish. The surprising impression was that tumor cells generated new tumor clones. Therefore, it has been proven experimentally that cancer cells educate natural cells to increase the production of cancer cells.

Scientists then studied the alteration of gene expression especially for TIGIT and KLRG1 receptors. Anti-TIGIT and anti-KLRG1 antibodies are really beneficial to use in treatment. This treatment causes natural cells not to promote cancer cells.

Study of the University of California

The team of the University of California recently published an article. They studied that by eliminating a gene called CISH from NK cells, enhanced the functioning of the NK cells, which cleaned leukemia in mouse models.

The Johns Hopkins team states that the mixture of DNMT inhibitors and receptor-blocking antibodies could give a good clinical technique to revitalize NK cells so they can reduce breast cancer metastases.

Cover Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

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