Biomarker of Mutant Stromal Cells May Detect Breast Cancer Early Interview with:

Lan Ko MD PhD Augusta University Cancer Center Augusta, GA 30912, USA

Dr. Lan Ko

Lan Ko MD PhD
Augusta University
Cancer Center
Augusta, GA 30912, USA What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Lan Ko: Cancer development hijacks normal cell differentiation. Understanding the normal is where we could begin to unlock the secret of cancer. In normal breast tissue, stem or progenitor cells produce supporting stromal cells in normal breast development. In breast cancer, the progenitor cells are mutated leaving mutant stromal cell offspring with altered activities to induce tumor. Mutant stem or progenitor cells may have longer lifespan than their mutant descendents so that they can fuel cancer growth for years. Eliminating those mutant progenitors at the source, at least in theory, will efficiently stop cancer.

Each subgroup of breast tumor stromal cells has been previously described by other scientists. However, the connections among these cells were unclear in the past. Like blind men feeling elephant, we scientists are often obscured from seeing the entire picture. The finding of mutant breast tumor stromal cells using GT198 as a marker provides a critical puzzle piece that fits the rest of puzzle together. When cancer problems can be viewed in multiple aspects with great simplicity, their connections emerge. We now know why breast cancer stromal cells are important, and how should we target them. What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Lan Ko: The finding of a new biomarker GT198 expressed in mutant breast tumor stromal cells will provide a diagnostic approach that can detect breast cancer early. Since mutant stromal cells are likely present at early stages even before tumor cells accumulate. The new protein biomarker is also an early treatment target if we can just get rid of those mutant stromal cells by immunotherapy using antibodies or by compound inhibitors against GT198 protein. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Lan Ko: It is currently unknown if any of the mutant tumor stromal cells, particularly mutant progenitors, may eventually migrate to other sites and cause tumor metastasis. With this new biomarker in hand, this can be figured out soon. To bring diagnose and treatment methods from bench to bed, a larger scale collaboration is needed among basic and clinical sciences as well as industry, which is a challenge we are prepared to face. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Dr. Lan Ko: We are indebted to a large number of scientists and collaborators for their devotion and unconditioned support in the past decades. The war on cancer will be winnable because of those like them. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Zheqiong Yang, Min Peng, Liang Cheng, Kimya Jones, Nita J. Maihle, Nahid F. Mivechi, Lan Ko. GT198 Expression Defines Mutant Tumor Stroma in Human Breast Cancer.The American Journal of Pathology, 2016; DOI:10.1016/j.ajpath.2016.01.006

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Dr. Lan Ko (2016). Biomarker of Mutant Stromal Cells May Detect Breast Cancer Early

Last Updated on March 21, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD