The spread, or metastasis, of individual breast cancer cells from the main tumor into the blood circulation to the lungs and other body tissues and organs is under the control of a growth factor abbreviated TGFb, according to a study with laboratory mice that will be presented at the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) 49th Annual Meeting, Dec. 5-9, 2009 in San Diego.
These messenger genes may be a promising target for drugs to block the metastatic breast cancer route, said Erik Sahai, Ph.D., of Cancer Research UK in London.
"The results helped us to find the set of genes that are behind the spread of breast cancer -- and that the genes need to be first turned on and then off in order for single cancer cells to be able to 'relocate,'" Sahai said.
Sahai's presentation at the ASCB conference follows the Oct. 2009 publication of the study in Nature Cell Biology.
In their studies with laboratory mice with breast cancer, Sahai and his colleagues determined that the control switch is the TGFb (transforming growth factor beta) that previous research had shown to regulate normal cell growth and movement.
Using an advanced microscopy and analysis technique, the Cancer UK scientists documented the movement of the cancer cells from the mouse's primary tumor site.
Because the cancer cells were tagged with a "reporter" protein that glowed blue when the TGFb cell messenger system was active, the researchers were able to determine that single breast cancer cells broke away from the main tumor and entered the blood system when TGFb first turned on the messenger genes in the cancer cells and then turned them off.
But, when TGFb was inactive, clumps, not individual, breast cancer cells broke away from the main tumor. Because these clumps can spread only through the lymphatic system, the metastasis was local, not through the blood.
The spread of individual cancer cells is more life-threatening than is the metastasis of a group of cells.
While single cells can travel through the blood circulation to sites throughout the body, groups of cancer cells are limited the lymphatic system, which keeps them local.
Advanced microscopy and analysis, said Sahai, allows researchers to investigate cell signaling "live" while observing individual cancer cells make the crucial transition to metastasis. It gives science a closer look at a process that has been largely hidden.
"Surprisingly little is known about the way cancer cells spread through the body because it is so incredibly difficult to study," said Sahai.
"In a medium-sized tumor there could be a billion cells -- and only a small proportion might break away and spread. So it is like trying to find -- and understand -- a moving needle in a very big haystack."
Erik Sahai, Ph.D. (firstname.lastname@example.org; 011 44 20 72693165) will present "Imaging the metastatic process" at Sunday, Dec. 6, 8:35 to 8:55 a.m., Minisymposium 1 Cancer Cells, Program #2, Ballroom 20A.
Cathy Yarbrough | EurekAlert!
How gut bacteria can make us ill
18.01.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung
Nanoparticle Exposure Can Awaken Dormant Viruses in the Lungs
16.01.2017 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
18.01.2017 | Life Sciences
18.01.2017 | Health and Medicine
17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences