Monday, July 7, 2014

Cell discovery could lead to blocking cancer spread

Migrating embryonic neural crest
cells (credit: Prof. Roberto Mayor)
CANCER DIGEST – July 7, 2014 – Cancer that spreads, or metastasizes, to other parts of the body is often deadly. How tumors spread, however, or more specifically, how cancer cells enter the blood or lymph systems to be transported elsewhere has long been a mystery. Researchers at the University College London (UCL) reported today in the Journal of Cell Biology that they have discovered that cells can change into a liquid-like state to easily move through blood and lymph vessels. 

The researchers say a molecule called lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) changes cells from a solid to a liquid-like state, allowing cells to flow between tissues in the body. Lead author of the study, Professor Roberto Mayor, of UCL, called the discovery a milestone in understanding cell development and cancer biology. 

“We have found a way to stop the movement of embryonic cells by blocking LPA signals,” he said in a press release. “It is likely that a similar mechanism operates during cancer invasion, which suggests a promising alternative in which cancer treatments might work in the future, if therapies can be targeted to limit the tissue fluidity of tumors.”

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