"Our work has pinpointed one of the key mechanisms that promotes the ability of breast cancer cells to spread. When the availability of asparagine was reduced, we saw little impact on the primary tumour in the breast, but tumour cells had reduced capacity for metastases in other parts of the body," the study's lead author, Greg Hannon, said in a statement. "This finding adds vital information to our understanding of how we can stop cancer spreading – the main reason patients die from their disease."
In addition to chemotherapy, researchers believe doctors should give patients asparagine-restricted diets to help prevent the illness from spreading. They also want to further their investigations to understand how to make the drug work with patients.
“The next step in the research would be to understand how this translates from the lab to patients and which patients are most likely to benefit from any potential treatment,” study co-author Charles Swanton added. “It’s possible that in future, this drug could be repurposed to help treat breast cancer patients.”