Insights into how cells move through the body could lead to innovative techniques to stop cancer cells from spreading and causing secondary tumours, according to new UCL research.
Scientists discovered that cells can change into an invasive, liquid-like state to readily navigate the narrow channels in our body. This transformation is triggered by chemical signals, which could be blocked in order to stop cancer cells from spreading.
In this image, the cells are stained red for cell protrusion, yellow for cell membrane and blue for nucleus.
Credit: Prof. R. Mayor
Most cancer deaths are not due to primary tumours, but to secondary tumours in vital organs, such as the lungs or brain, caused by cells moving from the original tumour to other places in the body.
The study led by UCL researchers and published today in the Journal of Cell Biology, used embryonic cells to investigate how groups of cells move in a developmental process similar to that used by cancer to spread around the body.
The team report a molecule called lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) changes cells from a solid-like to a liquid-like state, allowing cells to flow between normal tissues in the body. Scientists were able to switch off the signals from LPA, stopping the cells from moving down narrow, blood vessel-like channels.
Lead scientist Professor Roberto Mayor (UCL Cell & Developmental Biology), said: "We have found a way to stop the movement of embryonic cells by blocking LPA signals. 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 tumours.
"Our findings are important for the fields of cell, developmental and cancer biology. Previously, we thought cells only moved around the body either individually or as groups of well-connected cells.
What we have discovered is a hybrid state where cells loosen their links to neighbouring cells but still move en masse together, like a liquid. Moreover, we can stop this movement".
The work was co-authored by researchers at Kings College London and Cambridge University, UK and Akita City University, Japan.
Dr Rebecca Caygill | Eurek Alert!
More than just a mechanical barrier – epithelial cells actively combat the flu virus
04.05.2016 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung
Discovery of a fundamental limit to the evolution of the genetic code
03.05.2016 | Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)
Using an ultra fast-scanning atomic force microscope, a team of researchers from the University of Basel has filmed “living” nuclear pore complexes at work for the first time. Nuclear pores are molecular machines that control the traffic entering or exiting the cell nucleus. In their article published in Nature Nanotechnology, the researchers explain how the passage of unwanted molecules is prevented by rapidly moving molecular “tentacles” inside the pore.
Using high-speed AFM, Roderick Lim, Argovia Professor at the Biozentrum and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute of the University of Basel, has not only directly...
If a person pushes a broken-down car alone, there is a certain effect. If another person helps, the result is the sum of their efforts. If two micro-particles are pushing another microparticle, however, the resulting effect may not necessarily be the sum their efforts. A recent study published in Nature Communications, measured this odd effect that scientists call “many body.”
In the microscopic world, where the modern miniaturized machines at the new frontiers of technology operate, as long as we are in the presence of two...
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute Stuttgart have developed self-propelled tiny ‘microbots’ that can remove lead or organic pollution from contaminated water.
Working with colleagues in Barcelona and Singapore, Samuel Sánchez’s group used graphene oxide to make their microscale motors, which are able to adsorb lead...
Neutron scattering and computational modeling have revealed unique and unexpected behavior of water molecules under extreme confinement that is unmatched by any known gas, liquid or solid states.
In a paper published in Physical Review Letters, researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory describe a new tunneling state of...
Honeycomb structures as the basic building block for industrial applications presented using holo pyramid
Researchers of the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) will introduce their latest developments in the field of bionic lightweight design at Hannover Messe from 25...
27.04.2016 | Event News
15.04.2016 | Event News
12.04.2016 | Event News
04.05.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
04.05.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
04.05.2016 | Materials Sciences