The mammary gland is an organ that at once gives life to the young, but at the same time poses one of the greatest threats to the mother. Understanding how the tissue develops and functions is of pressing importance in determining how its control mechanisms break down in breast cancer. Here we argue that the interactions between mammary epithelial cells and their extracellular matrix (ECM) are crucial in the development and function of the tissue. Current strategies for treating breast cancer take advantage of our knowledge of the endocrine regulation of breast development, and the emerging role of stromal-epithelial interactions (Fig. 1). Focusing, in addition, on the microenvironmental influences that arise from cell-matrix interactions will open new opportunities for therapeutic intervention. We suggest that ultimately a three-pronged approach targeting endocrine, growth factor, and cell-matrix interactions will provide the best chance of curing the disease.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)