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 Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery
20.01.2017 | GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH

nachricht Seeking structure with metagenome sequences
20.01.2017 | DOE/Joint Genome Institute

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

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...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

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...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

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...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>