PhD student in Biochemistry
Published in: Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women. Many are cured thanks to state-of-the-art screening and treatment. Even so, metastatic breast cancer is all too often resistant to treatment and incurable. The scientific community is still trying to find a way to effectively target metastases. The limitations of surgical interventions have led to the emergence of the concept of starving the cancer. Though critical to the survival of tumours, lipids may ultimately prove to be their Achilles heel. The stearoyl-coenzyme A desaturase-1 (SCD1) protein, which is abundant in breast cancer tumours, tirelessly produces a monosaturated fat known as oleate that cancerous tumours simply cannot resist. More specifically, research has found that oleate triggers metastatic breast cancer cell migration. The study led by Marine Lingrand seeks to better understand how SCD1 and oleate contribute to migration, invasion and proliferation, which make up the deadly three-pronged process of metastatic breast cancer. The findings prove that slowing the activity of SCD1 effectively curbs metastatic breast cancer cell migration, invasion and proliferation. The enzyme therefore likely plays a key role in metastasis progression. The research project elucidates the related molecular mechanisms to optimize treatments that specifically target metastatic breast cancers.