Dr Erez is trying to find out how bones change to accommodate the spread of breast cancer cells. Understanding this process could ultimately help to stop breast cancer from spreading.
Dr Neta Erez used to be a hiking guide and still enjoys hiking in Israel’s desert. She also practices yoga and is an enthusiastic cook, which her friends and family get to enjoy on weekends, when everyone gathers at her family’s house.
All deaths from breast cancer result from cancers that have metastasised - or spread - to other parts of the body. Three quarters of these advanced breast cancers spread to the bones. The immediate environment around tumours is crucial for the progression and spread of cancer. What is less well understood is how the environment allows cancer cells to metastasise to other parts of the body, including bones.
Dr Erez and her team are looking to gain a better understanding of how cells in the bone change to allow wandering cancer cells to settle and grow there. By uncovering these changes, they hope to find new treatment targets, which they will then use to try and inhibit the spread of breast cancer.
Without discovery research, we will not understand mechanisms and pathways that facilitate cancer progression. This understanding and knowledge are the basis for any translational research that aims to develop new drugs. Discovery research allows us to identify the targets, and then we can proceed to targeting them.