SPOKANE – Pharmaceutical sciences Ph.D. student Victor Bii is working on a project to understand how breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body, a process known as metastasis. Metastasis to vital organs is what causes lethality in breast cancer, so studying this process is key to identifying new therapies.

Victor is using a retrovirus that normally causes leukemia to identify how breast cancer spreads into other tissues like bone and lung. The research takes advantage of the viruses’ ability to insert its DNA into the genome of a human cell. The virus then acts like a molecular tag to identify genes that get altered and lead to metastases. Using this approach Bii has now tagged genes that appear to be involved in the breast cancer metastasis. He is now working to determine how these genes are involved in metastasis.

This research is part of a broader effort in the laboratory of Associate Professor Grant Trobridge to identify new therapeutic targets to treat cancer. “Victor’s research has identified some exciting new genes that we hope can be targeted with new drugs to stop or slow metastases,” Trobridge said. His group recently published their findings using a similar approach to identify genes involved in prostate cancer in the journal Molecular Cancer.

Read more here: http://www.molecular-cancer.com/content/13/1/120

[January 14, 2015] Grant D. Trobridge