Inflammatory response may boost cancer spread

In collaboration with the Press Association

The inflammatory response to tumour growth - which should help protect the body - may actually boost the spread of some cancers, researchers have said.

The University of California San Diego (UCSD) study examined how inflammation affects spreading, or metastatic, prostate cancer.

In laboratory tests, the scientists found that production of a protein which normally helps prevent breast and prostate cancers spreading is blocked when tissue becomes inflamed.

The protein, known as Maspin, has been shown to be present at high levels during early stages of cancer but begins to decline as tumours begin to spread .

This is due to a protein known as RANK ligand, which is activated by inflamed tissue and causes a chain of events which suppresses Maspin, said the UCSD team.

The discovery could provide a new target for therapy, the researchers suggested, although they added that further work is required to confirm the finding.

The study is published in the journal Nature.