Fox Chase Cancer Center Absence of a single protein known as Nedd9 assumed to decrease cancer formation, builds future threats. Researchers from the Fox Chase Cancer Center claim that loss of Nedd9 slows cancer formation, but tumors that arise become more aggressive. However, Nedd9 deficiency makes the aggressive tumors more sensitive to a certain class of drugs.

The probable link between Nedd9 expression and metastasis in various human cancers like breast cancer has been pointed out in many prior investigations. A report had suggested that lack of Nedd9 from a mouse model of breast cancer delays tumor growth as compared to control animals. The current study assumes that cells isolated from the Nedd9-deficient tumors develop new tumors quickly in mice. These tumors are apparently more capable of giving rise to lung metastases than those with normal levels of Nedd9.

“If a tumor is able to overcome the loss of this protein, this clearly makes it undergo complicated changes that ultimately select for a more aggressive tumor. It is reminiscent of the situation you get when you treat cancer patients with a drug and get an initial response. However, eventually their tumor overrides the drug, and then you have a really tough tumor,” added Erica A. Golemis, PhD, professor and co-leader of developmental therapeutics at Fox Chase, and senior investigator on the research.

Since Nedd9 interacts directly with a protein known as Src, researchers focused on determining whether Src inhibitor dasatinib, known to treat cancer, regulates the aggressive Nedd9-deficient tumors. Experts claim that the protein Src is a major drug development target. It appeared that dasatinib rapidly kills the Nedd9-deficient tumor cells, even when provided in low doses.

The research is published online October 12 in Cancer Research