Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Duke team finds new clues to how cancer spreads

28.06.2011
Cancer cells circulating in the blood carry newly identified proteins that could be screened to improve prognostic tests and suggest targets for therapies, report scientists at the Duke Cancer Institute.

Building on current technologies that detect tumor cells circulating in blood, the Duke team was able to characterize these cells in a new way, illuminating how they may escape from the originating tumors and move to other locations in the body.

The circulating tumor cmoponents include proteins normally seen when embryonic stem cells begin to specialize and move through the body to develop organs such as the heart, bones and skin, the Duke scientists reported this month in the journal Molecular Cancer Research.

The discovery may enhance the accuracy of blood tests that detect circulating cancer cells, giving doctors better information to gauge how a patient's disease is responding or progressing.

"By developing a better blood test based on our findings, we may be able to identify molecular targets for therapy tailored to an individual patient's cancer," said Andrew J. Armstrong, M.D., ScM, assistant professor of medicine at Duke and lead author of the study.

The Duke team isolated tumor cells from blood samples of 57 patients, including 41 men with advanced prostate cancer and 16 women with metastatic breast cancer.

In the tumor cells of more than 80 percent of the prostate cancer patients and 75 percent of those with breast cancer, the researchers detected a group of proteins normally seen during embryonic development when stem cells begin to assume distinct roles.

As stem cells morph to build tissue and organs, they switch back and forth in what is known as epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and it's opposite, mesencymal-epithelial transition (MET). Cancer cells have that same ability, changing from an epithelial cell similar to the organs from which they arose, to a mesenchymal or connective tissue-like cell. This EMT may underlie much of the treatment resistance and ability of cancer cells to spread.

Current FDA-approved blood tests that detect circulating tumor cells flag molecules associated with epithelial transitions; however, the Duke team found additional markers associated with mesenchymal origins, adding new targets that could be used to enhance the usefulness and sensitivity of the tests.

"Cancer is a hijacking of that normal embryonic stem cell process," Armstrong said. "It reactivates this silent program that is turned off in adult cells, allowing tumor cells to move throughout the body and become resistant to therapy."

Armstrong said the involvement of EMT/MET processes in tumor growth is a relatively new finding that is gaining acceptance among cancer scientists. The discovery by the Duke team adds strong evidence that the EMT/MET processes are underway when a patient's cancer is spreading.

"In my opinion this work presents some of the most compelling data for the existence of epithelial-mesenchymal transitions in human cancer," said Mariano A. Garcia-Blanco, professor of medicine, molecular genetics and microbiology, and senior author in the work.

"This work should pave the way for studies to understand the mechanisms underlying these transitions in humans and their importance in disease progression and therapy," said Garcia-Blanco, who is also director of the Duke Center for RNA Biology.

The Duke team additionally noted that tumor cells appear to be most dangerous when they can easily transition between EMT and MET in a stem cell-like phase of changability that enables them to grow, spread and resist treatment.

That finding could provide new opportunities for novel therapies that target these morphing mechanisms.

"This is not just for a biomarker, it's a direction to take therapies as well," Armstrong said. "It's a new horizon."

In addition to Armstrong and Garcia-Blanco, study authors include Matthew S. Marengo; Sebastian Oltean; Gabor Kemeny; Rhonda L. Bitting; James Turnbull; Christina I. Herold; Paul K. Marcom; and Daniel George.

The study was funded with grants from the National Institutes of Health; the Department of Defense Prostate Cancer Research Program; the Prostate Cancer Foundation; the American Cancer Society; and the Duke Cancer Institute.

Armstrong, Oltean, George and Garcia-Blanco have a patent application for the biological process used for detecting the blood markers.

Sarah Avery | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.duke.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Scientists enlist engineered protein to battle the MERS virus
22.05.2017 | University of Toronto

nachricht Insight into enzyme's 3-D structure could cut biofuel costs
19.05.2017 | DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

Im Focus: Bacteria harness the lotus effect to protect themselves

Biofilms: Researchers find the causes of water-repelling properties

Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...

Im Focus: Hydrogen Bonds Directly Detected for the First Time

For the first time, scientists have succeeded in studying the strength of hydrogen bonds in a single molecule using an atomic force microscope. Researchers from the University of Basel’s Swiss Nanoscience Institute network have reported the results in the journal Science Advances.

Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe and is an integral part of almost all organic compounds. Molecules and sections of macromolecules are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

Innovation 4.0: Shaping a humane fourth industrial revolution

17.05.2017 | Event News

Media accreditation opens for historic year at European Health Forum Gastein

16.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New approach to revolutionize the production of molecular hydrogen

22.05.2017 | Materials Sciences

Scientists enlist engineered protein to battle the MERS virus

22.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Experts explain origins of topographic relief on Earth, Mars and Titan

22.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>