Biology prof paves 
way for future breast cancer treatments

CSUN biology professor Jonathan Kelber and a team of nine students are leading the pack in breast cancer research by identifying a critical cancer “support wall” gene called PEAK1. The results of their research have been published in the Public Library of Science (PLoS) One journal, in an article titled “PEAK1 Acts as a Molecular Switch to Regulate Context-Dependent TGFβ Responses in Breast Cancer.” The report is the first ever to show that the PEAK1 gene is essential at the earliest stages of aggressive breast cancer metastasis.

Metastasis is the process of cancer cells moving from their original source — in this case the breasts — to other parts of the body through the blood stream and forming malignant tumors elsewhere. Complete understanding of the mechanism for how this switch occurs is still being sought, but Kelber said that because he and his team of undergraduate and graduate students identified a central role for PEAK1 in this process, their discovery could help researchers better understand breast cancer metastasis.