An innovative combination therapy can force malignant breast cancer cells to turn into fat cells. This can be used to prevent the formation of metastases in mice, as researchers at the University of Basel’s Department of Biomedicine recently reported in the journal Cancer Cell.
Tumor cells can adapt dynamically to changing conditions thanks to their ability to reactivate a cellular process that is central to embryonic development. This allows the cells to alter their molecular properties and to acquire new capabilities.
As a result, resident cells can adopt the properties of other cell types and break away from their cell cluster. Once mobile, the cells migrate via the bloodstream to other regions of the body, where they undergo a further conversion before taking root and forming new tissue structures.
Adaptable cancer cells
In the embryo, this epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) is instrumental to the development of organs. Tumor cells, however, exploit the process in order to leave the primary tumor so that they can spread around the body and form metastases in distant organs.
The research group led by Professor Gerhard Christofori at the University of Basel’s Department of Biomedicine researches the molecular processes that regulate the cellular EMT program.
Its aim is to demonstrate new approaches to combating the development of tumors and the formation of metastases – such as in the case of breast cancer, one of the most common and malignant diseases in women.
Malignant cancer cells exhibit a high degree of adaptability – referred to as plasticity – as they undergo the cellular EMT program. Now, the researchers have exploited this property in order to develop a new type of therapeutic approach.
In experiments on mice, they have succeeded in using a combination of two active substances to convert breast cancer cells, which divide quickly and form metastases, into fat cells that can no longer divide and can barely be differentiated from normal fat cells. This stops the tumor from invading the neighboring tissue and blood vessels, and no further metastases can form.
This novel differentiation therapy is based on a combination of two drugs: Rosiglitazone, which is widely used to treat patients with diabetes, and Trametinib, which inhibits the growth and spread of cancer cells.
“In future, this innovative therapeutic approach could be used in combination with conventional chemotherapy to suppress both primary tumor growth and the formation of deadly metastases,” says Professor Gerhard Christofori. Furthermore, the research findings show that malignant cancer cells – like stem cells – exhibit a high degree of cell plasticity, which can be exploited for therapeutic purposes.
Prof. Dr. Gerhard Christofori, University of Basel, Department of Biomedicine, Tel. +41 61 207 35 62, email: email@example.com
Dana Ishay Ronen, Maren Diepenbruck, Ravi Kiran Reddy Kalathur, Nami Sugiyama, Stefanie Tiede, Robert Ivanek, Glenn Bantug, Marco Francesco Morini, Junrong Wang, Christoph Hess, and Gerhard Christofori
Gain Fat—Lose Metastasis: Converting Invasive Breast Cancer Cells into Adipocytes Inhibits Cancer Metastasis
Cancer Cell (2019), doi: 10.1016/j.ccell.2018.12.002
https://biomedizin.unibas.ch/en/research/research-groups/christofori-lab/ Research group of Prof. Gerhard Christofori
Reto Caluori | Universität Basel
'Flamenco dancing' molecule could lead to better-protecting sunscreen
18.10.2019 | University of Warwick
Synthetic cells make long-distance calls
17.10.2019 | Rice University
A very special kind of light is emitted by tungsten diselenide layers. The reason for this has been unclear. Now an explanation has been found at TU Wien (Vienna)
It is an exotic phenomenon that nobody was able to explain for years: when energy is supplied to a thin layer of the material tungsten diselenide, it begins to...
Researchers at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have explored the initial consequences of the interaction of light with molecules on the surface of nanoscopic aerosols.
The nanocosmos is constantly in motion. All natural processes are ultimately determined by the interplay between radiation and matter. Light strikes particles...
Particles that are mere nanometers in size are at the forefront of scientific research today. They come in many different shapes: rods, spheres, cubes, vesicles, S-shaped worms and even donut-like rings. What makes them worthy of scientific study is that, being so tiny, they exhibit quantum mechanical properties not possible with larger objects.
Researchers at the Center for Nanoscale Materials (CNM), a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility located at DOE's Argonne National...
A new research project at the TH Mittelhessen focusses on the development of a novel light weight design concept for leisure boats and yachts. Professor Stephan Marzi from the THM Institute of Mechanics and Materials collaborates with Krake Catamarane, which is a shipyard located in Apolda, Thuringia.
The project is set up in an international cooperation with Professor Anders Biel from Karlstad University in Sweden and the Swedish company Lamera from...
Superconductivity has fascinated scientists for many years since it offers the potential to revolutionize current technologies. Materials only become superconductors - meaning that electrons can travel in them with no resistance - at very low temperatures. These days, this unique zero resistance superconductivity is commonly found in a number of technologies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Future technologies, however, will harness the total synchrony of electronic behavior in superconductors - a property called the phase. There is currently a...
02.10.2019 | Event News
02.10.2019 | Event News
19.09.2019 | Event News
18.10.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering
18.10.2019 | Medical Engineering
18.10.2019 | Physics and Astronomy