GALVESTON, Texas - University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston researcher Binhua P. Zhou has received a five-year, $1.4 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to advance his research on regulation of Snail in breast cancer progression and metastasis.

Snail, a transcriptional regulatory protein, plays a critical role in the initiation and progression of metastasis. Overexpression of Snail correlates with tumor grade and nodal metastasis of breast cancer, but the mechanism remains unclear.

"Our long-term goal is to reduce the incidence of breast cancer metastasis by gaining an understanding of the molecular mechanism underlying the initial step of breast cancer metastasis," said Zhou.

According to Zhou, approximately 90 percent of breast cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, and the median survival time for patients with metastatic breast cancer is approximately two years.

"An understanding of the mechanisms at work in the initiation and progression of metastasis is important for prevention and treatment of breast cancer," said Zhou. "The knowledge gained from this study holds great promise for novel interventions for preventing and treating breast cancer."