Blocking LOXL2 enzyme cut cancer spread dramatically


Targeting cancer drugs is difficult -- but the LOXL2 enzyme may offer a clue. Image: Flickr / anolobb / CC-BY

LOXL2 is an amino acid creation enzyme in the body that helps create collagen and elastin. Researchers in the U.K. found that blocking the enzyme cut cancer spread dramatically. About 90 percent of cancer deaths are caused by cancer spreading from one part of the body to another.

Breast cancer spread affected by blocking enzyme

In medical journal Cancer Research, researchers at the Institute of Cancer Research in the U.K. published their recent findings. The researchers subjected breast cancer cells to chemicals that blocked the LOXL2 enzyme. When subjected to enzyme blockers, the cancer cells did not spread to other parts of the body nearly as often. A high level of LOXL2 enzymes and presence of the LOXL2 gene is connected with fast-spreading cancer that travels from breast tissue to the bloodstream. When cancer spreads from tissue to the blood, it can reappear just about anywhere in the body — often leading to death.

Presence of LOXL2 enzymes

The LOXL2 gene uses copper to synthesize collagen and elastin. The gene helps the body create and rebuild. The enzyme also helps cancer cells move from muscle and fat tissue into the blood. LOXL2 enzymes are usually present in very high levels in individuals who have fast-spreading cancer. The research showing that blocking the enzyme cut cancer spread has, thus far, only been done on mice in the lab. The use of LOXL2 as a predictor is also not commonly used in humans yet.

Creating targeted cancer drugs

In the quest to cure cancer, researchers have identified multiple avenues of promising research, all of which seek to target specific cancers. Creating targeted cancer drugs can be especially difficult because individual cancers carry different genetic signatures and indicators. Creating a human-usable drug that will target the LOXL2 enzyme could take up to three years, and FDA approval could take up to two additional years.


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