« Research Shows Mechanism For Arresting Tumor Growth | Main | Early detection of cancer, part 1: More complex than you think »

April 3, 2007

Study Finds Cancer Thrives In Liquid

Topics: Medical Science News

For many types of cancers, it's not the primary tumor that eventually ends up killing some people, it's the secondary malignancies that break away and take up residence elsewhere in the body - and become highly resistant to chemotherapy. Now scientists at the B.C. Cancer Agency studying a form of childhood cancer think they know part of the reason why, and possibly how to stop these spreading tumors in their tracks before they reach a potentially deadly destination:

... In a study of Ewing sarcoma, a bone and connective-tissue cancer that primarily strikes children and young adults, found that malignant cells act differently once they migrate into the bloodstream or lymphatic system, compared to their behavior at the original tumour site.

[...] Sorensen and his research team, ... took cells from Ewing sarcomas and cultured them in a solution that mimics blood to recreate the environment such cells would be in while traveling through the body.

Although such cells normally need to be anchored to a solid mass to survive, being suspended in liquid allowed the cancer cells to grow stronger and to become effectively drug-resistant.

The researchers discovered that when in the liquid, the stray cancer cells not only formed into balls, but also began to express a E-cadherin, a protein normally not found in sarcomas. The presence of E-cadherin allowed these cell clusters to then activate another protein -- called ErbB4 -- that helps regulate growth in tumour cells and renders them able to resist chemotherapy.

Detecting these two proteins has given scientists an idea how to kill off the floating balls of cancer before they migrate to solid tissues, such as the lungs or liver, and form secondary tumours.

More here ...

Posted by Richard at April 3, 2007 9:13 AM

Articles Related to Medical Science News: