Emma Kuan and Steven Ziegler

The study of a protein, critical in causing asthma, allergies and other diseases, has led scientists at Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason (BRI) to discover a new strategy for stopping breast cancer.

BRI researchers Emma Kuan, PhD, and Steven Ziegler, PhD, have pinpointed how the protein, called thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP), helps breast cancer tumors survive and grow. Even more significant, the researchers showed that blocking TSLP can significantly inhibit the growth of breast tumors and halt metastasis to the lung. This discovery opens the door to new strategies that could stop breast cancer tumors from growing and spreading. It may also be applied to other tumors that involve TSLP.

“Breast cancer becomes especially dangerous once it spreads to other parts of the body,” Dr. Kuan says. “Our work suggests that blocking TSLP could prevent this from happening and potentially save the lives of women worldwide.”

The research was published recently in Nature Immunology. TSLP was discovered 15 years ago by the Ziegler Laboratory, as well as other labs, to initiate the inflammatory cascade that leads to the development of asthma, allergies and other diseases.