Understanding the molecules involved in breast cancer spread
University of Birmingham
Dr Fedor Berditchevski works at the School of Cancer Sciences at the University of Birmingham. He is studying how breast cancer cells break away from a tumour and start to spread around the body – a process called metastasis. His work is helping us to understand how cancer spreads, which could lead to more effective treatments in the future.
Dr Berditchevski is particularly interested in a protein called CD151, found on the surface of cells. Low amounts of this protein are found in healthy breast cells, but very high levels are seen in breast cancer cells. Dr Berditchevski and his team have found that CD151 interacts with other proteins on the surface of cancer cells, helping them to move and spread.
Watching cells move
The team is now carrying out complex experiments to understand exactly how CD151 is involved in the spread of breast cancer. The researchers are using a time-lapse video camera attached to a microscope to watch the movement of breast cancer cells grown in the lab. And they are investigating other proteins in the cell that work together with CD151.
By unravelling the complicated role of this important protein in cancer cells, Dr Berditchevski's research will reveal more about how breast cancer spreads through the body. This knowledge forms the foundations for future treatments to target the disease.