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SCIENTISTS have discovered a key enzyme that helps make breast cancer tumours bigger and more aggressive.

It is hoped the breakthrough could one day lead to new treatments to stop abnormal cells in breast tissue becoming tumours.

Researchers found that blocking the enzyme lysyl oxidase (LOX) cut the chance of a tumour forming. Those that did develop were smaller and less aggressive, making them easier to treat.

Researchers said LOX was key for turning abnormal but non-malignant breast tissue into tumours, according to a study published online in the journal Cell.

Although the tests were carried out for breast cancer, researchers said it could lead to treatments for many other cancers that have higher LOX levels.

Study co-author Professor Valerie Weaver, of the University of California, said: “We still have a lot more work to do but this is exciting.”

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, with more than 45,500 women diagnosed each year.

Breast cancer numbers have risen by more than 50 per cent in 25 years. The disease kills 12,000 women and 90 men each year.

Dr Laura Bell, of Cancer Research UK, said: “The next steps will be to find out if LOX can be switched off and whether this helps to prevent tumours forming or slows their growth.” continues here

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