Autotaxin is an enzyme that is generated by the body for regeneration and repair of tissues, but on the other side, it acts as a catalyst for the growth of tumors. It also facilitates the growth of other inflammatory conditions like arthritis, colitis and cancer specially breast cancer and growth of thyroid tumors.
Researchers from the University of Alberta believe that by targeting this enzyme which is causing vicious growth of tumors and resistance in its treatment they can more effectively fight breast and thyroid cancers.
A team under the leadership of David Brindley from the University of Alberta supports this research. They believe that Autotaxin produces lysophosphatidic acid which promotes the survival and growth of cancer cells. The beneficial effects of radiotherapy and chemotherapy are also resisted because of this enzyme. If the activity of autotaxin is inhibited the early growth of tumors in the breast can be slashed down by up to 70 percent. The metastasis of the tumor is reduced by a similar margin as well. This was checked by Brindley and his team of researchers by using an autotaxin inhibiting drug developed by Ono pharmaceutical Japan.
Later on, they used different techniques for blocking the effects of lysophosphatidic acid and then by performing various tests they found that they were able to block the growth of breast and thyroid tumors by 80 percent.
The researchers are exploiting the therapeutic potential of these inhibitors and are now working on the first autotaxin inhibitor that could make it to the clinic. This medicine in combination with chemotherapy will drastically improve the treatment of cancer which is believed to help one third of women that die from breast cancer and many thyroid cancer patients whose response to conventional cancer treatment is not very effective.