Metabolic Memory Plays a Significant Role in Breast Cancer Recurrence

A group of scientists from Germany, Norway, and Great Britain identified molecular targets for therapies that could prevent breast cancer recurrence, having analyzed tumor cells that proved resistant to the original treatment.Metabolic Memory Plays a Significant Role in Breast Cancer Recurrence

The researchers analyzed methylation changes in cells that survive initial treatment, responsible for what is known as Minimal Residual Disease (MRD). MRD can proliferate after a considerable dormancy phase and cause an incurable relapse of cancer.

The most important what the scientists found was that the resistant cells demonstrated very similar metabolic behavior and methylation patterns to cells of the original tumor, but not to normal cells. Nonetheless, they did not have other characteristics of the original tumor cells, such as high proliferation propensity and the presence of oncogenic signaling.

That is why the team concluded that MRD cells carry some form of “metabolic and epigenetic memory” of the tumor state. To confirm the received result, the researchers used transcriptomic data from patients after they had received neoadjuvant therapy, which is usually a form of chemotherapy to shrink the tumor prior to surgical excision.

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