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The role of tumour-produced blood clotting factors in breast cancer

  • Researcher: Dr Henri Versteeg
  • Institution: Leiden University Medical Center, Netherlands
  • Award Amount: £198,024 from 1st August 2015 for 3 years
  • Cancer Type: Breast Cancer
The role of tumour-produced blood clotting factors in breast cancer
People with cancer are more likely to develop blood clots because cancer activates blood clotting.  Dr Henri Versteeg’s team are investigating the role of clotting proteins in cancer growth.  “In our laboratory we showed that two important blood clotting proteins can be produced by breast tumours” he says “and when they do, the cancer cells become more aggressive.  This suggests that if we blocked clotting proteins, we might halt tumour growth”.  But the problem here is that normal clotting proteins, produced by the liver and carried in the blood, are very important for our health.  Blocking those, as well as the tumour clotting proteins, could result in uncontrolled bleeding, an extremely dangerous side effect.  Dr Versteeg will use his Worldwide Cancer Research funding to investigate the differences between normal clotting proteins made by the liver and the clotting proteins made, incorrectly, by tumour cells.  “We think it is only the tumour-made clotting proteins that make cancers aggressive, but we need to prove it and work out why.  We will look at how the different clotting proteins affect tumour cells in a petri dish and then go on to study them in mouse cancer models” says Dr Versteeg.  If Dr Versteeg’s theory is correct it might be possible to reduce the activity of tumour-made clotting proteins with precision drugs but leave those required for normal blood clotting untouched.  He – and we – hope the results of this project will open up a new avenue for cancer treatment in future.
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