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By Stephen Luntz

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Breast Cancer Linked to Calcium Pump
A misbehaving calcium transporter has been linked to certain types of breast cancer. The discovery offers hope for better treatment of these cancers, with indications that related transporters may be relevant in other cases.

The SPCA2 pump normally forces calcium into a section of the cell known as the Golgi complex. However, A/Prof Greg Monteith of the University of Queensland, along with colleagues there and at Johns Hopkins University, found that the SPCA2 protein is present in large quantities in many breast cancers.

“In breast cancer cells, the pump sits not on the Golgi complex but on the membrane surface and turns on the calcium channel, letting calcium into the cell,” says Monteith.

“SPCA2 belongs to a family of proteins related to transporters we already have drugs for, so it is what we call a druggable target,” Monteith adds, offering hope for new treatments from the research. Moreover, the team has identified other calcium transporters that may play similar roles in other forms of breast cancer.

“We are focusing on those breast cancer types that have the poorest prognosis,” Monteith says.

The research was published in Cell.

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