Metastasis, the spreading of cancer, while responsible for the majority of breast cancer-related deaths, is not yet fully understood so cannot be reliably stopped.
Understanding the changes that occur within a cancer cell to allow it to spread throughout the body could reveal potential new drug targets for advanced breast cancer. We know that a cell must first become flexible to be able to invade another cell, but the cause of this change is unknown.
Dr Hale and her team are exploring a protein called HP1a. The protein usually disappears from invasive breast tumours so is thought to be a possible candidate for the trigger of this physical shift in the cancer cell.
If HP1a is found to be responsible, it could be the beginning of the next generation of cancer therapies.