Mouse studies suggest that blocking aid from white blood cells and stem cells could keep tumors contained
Working with mice, Johns Hopkins researchers report they have identified chemical signals that certain breast cancers use to recruit two types of normal cells needed for the cancers' spread. A description of the findings appears in the online early May edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"Blocking one of these cell-recruiting signals in a mouse's tumor made it much less likely to metastasize or spread," says Gregg Semenza, M.D., Ph.D., a professor and director of the Vascular Biology Program in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine's Institute for Cell Engineering.
"If a drug can be found that safely blocks the same signal in humans, it could be a very useful addition to current breast cancer treatment — particularly for patients with chemotherapy-resistant tumors."
Semenza's research group studies a chemical signal called hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1), which cells release to help them cope with low-oxygen conditions. Earlier, the group determined that HIF-1 helps breast tumor cells survive the low-oxygen conditions in which they often live, and spread to other parts of the body such as the lungs. "In breast cancer, it's not the original tumor that kills patients, but the metastases," says Semenza.
Also in a previous study, Semenza's group found that HIF-1 induced adult stem cells called mesenchymal stem cells release a signal to nearby breast cancer cells, which made them more likely to spread. The researchers suspected this communication might run both ways and that the stem cells' presence might also help the cancer to recruit the host animal's white blood cells. Breast cancers need the support of several types of host cells in order to metastasize, including mesenchymal stem cells and one type of white blood cell, Semenza notes.
Studying tumor cells grown in a dish, Semenza's team used chemicals that blocked the functions of various proteins to map a web of signals flying among breast cancer cells, menenchymal stem cells and white blood cells. One positive feedback loop brought mesenchymal stem cells close in to the breast cancer cells. A separate loop of signals between the stem cells and cancer cells caused the cancer cells to release a chemical "beacon" that drew in white blood cells. The concentrations of all the signals in the web were increased by the presence of HIF-1 — and ultimately, by low-oxygen conditions.
The team then used genetic engineering to reduce the levels of the cell-recruiting signals in breast cancer cells and implanted those cells into female mice. Compared with unaltered breast cancer cells, those with reduced recruiting power grew into similar-sized tumors, Semenza says, but were much less likely to spread.
All of the breast cancer cells used in the study were so-called triple-negative, meaning they lack receptors for estrogen, progesterone and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, so they do not respond to therapies that target those receptors. In people, triple-negative breast cancers also tend to be more deadly than other breast cancers because they contain more HIF-1, Semenza says. "This study adds to the evidence that a HIF-1 inhibitor drug could be an effective addition to chemotherapy regimens, especially for triple-negative breast cancers," he says. Several potential drugs of this kind are now in the early stages of development, he notes.
Link to the paper: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2014/05/01/1406655111.abstract
Other authors on this paper were Pallavi Chaturvedi, Daniele M. Gilkes and Naoharu Takano, all of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Johns Hopkins Researchers Discover How Breast Cancer Spreads to Lung http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/johns_hopkins_researchers_discover_how_breast_cancer_spreads_to_lung
Johns Hopkins Researchers Link Cell Division And Oxygen Levels http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/johns_hopkins_researchers_link_cell_division_and_oxygen_levels
Shawna Williams | Eurek Alert!
Polymers Based on Boron?
18.01.2018 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
Bioengineered soft microfibers improve T-cell production
18.01.2018 | Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
The oceans are the largest global heat reservoir. As a result of man-made global warming, the temperature in the global climate system increases; around 90% of...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
18.01.2018 | Life Sciences
18.01.2018 | Life Sciences
18.01.2018 | Earth Sciences