Research shows that the protein COMP can be found in breast cancer tumors in patients with a poor prognosis.
COMP mainly exists in cartilage, where it helps development of a normal structure of the tissue. COMP is also used as an indicator of cartilage damage in joint diseases.
Researchers discovered a clue through a database search that sparked their interest in studying whether COMP may also be linked in breast cancer.
The results are based on a clinical study of breast tissue from a little more than 600 women with breast cancer. Various amounts of COMP were found in both the tumors and the surrounding tissue. Conversely, COMP was never found in healthy breast tissue.
Women with high levels of COMP experienced increased metastasis and increased mortality.
Researchers saw a clear association between high levels of COMP and a worse breast cancer prognosis. With more research, COMP has the potential of becoming an indicator of aggressive breast cancer and thereby providing early and valuable information before deciding on an appropriate treatment.
After the clinical study, the research group continued with studies on the molecular mechanisms that can explain the effect COMP has on the breast cancer development.
The studies showed that COMP not only contributed to a more rapid growth of the primary tumor but also to formation of metastases. COMP made the cancer cells more resistant to natural cell death, making the breast environment less favorable to healthy cells.
Researchers are now initiating advanced studies on COMP and the molecular processes that take place during cell metabolism. They are additionally conducting studies on other changed cellular processes linked to COMP and tumor formation in the breast.
Preliminary discoveries indicate that the protein may be significant in terms of the development of prostate cancer as well.