Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Robert Weinberg: Research Can Begin to Rationalize Complex Process of the Development of Metastases

27.03.2008
"The process of tumor metastasis has until recently been one of bewildering complexity. However, one can now begin to rationalize this complex process in terms of a relatively small number of master control genes which normally operate during normal development and which are appropriated and exploited by cancer cells", Dr. Robert Weinberg, a pioneer in cancer research from the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Cambridge, USA, said in Berlin.

The reason for this is the discovery of transcription factors in the last few years. "Transcription factors are proteins that turn genes on and off and can act to program many of the traits of highly malignant cells", as described by Dr. Weinberg, who is also a Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

He delivered the key note lecture at the opening of the International Conference on "Invasion and Metastasis" of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) in Berlin, Germany on Wednesday evening (March 26). He is most widely known for his discoveries of the first human oncogene - a gene that causes normal cells to form tumors - and the first tumor suppressor gene.

In 2007, almost 560,000 Americans and more than 1,8 million Europeans died of cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.

... more about:
»EMT »enable »epithelial »primary

"The vast majority (90 percent) of these patients were struck down by metastases, cancer cells that have disseminated and colonized in organs far from the primary tumor", Dr. Weinberg pointed out. "Only ten percent of cancer patients die of their primary tumors".

The majority of life-threatening cancers about 80 per cent, occur in epithelial tissue. Epithelial cells cover the outside of the body, skin cells, and line the inner organs such as breast glands, the colon, the prostrate, and blood and lymph vessels. But what exactly enables cancer cells to leave the primary tumor and "travel by the body's highways - the blood and the lymphatic vessels -", as Dr. Weinberg put it, to seek new sites where they may found new colonies?

Drastic change of the cell's traits

Recent research suggests that a drastic alteration of the primary cancer cells (called epithelial- mesenchymal transition or EMT) plays a crucial role in this complex biological process. "The EMT involves a profound change in the biological phenotype of cells in which they shed their epithelial traits together with their gene expression pattern and acquire mesenchymal ones instead", Dr. Weinberg explained.

Special epithelial markers, like E-cadherin and beta-Catenin, are depressed. These markers normally keep the epithelial cells tightly together. The mesenchymal state frees these cells to move about and to invade other tissues, and also makes them resistant to apoptosis, programmed cell death. "This pathological process is strikingly similar to the EMT normally occurring during embryogenesis and wound healing", said Weinberg.

EMT is an important program which enables carcinoma cells to become mobile and invasive. "Nonetheless, it is still unclear whether EMT underlies the malignant behavior of all carcinoma cells or whether alternative programs are activated to enable metastatic dissemination," Dr. Weinberg pointed out.

Many other questions still remain: Why do breast cancers typically metastasize in the brain, liver, bones, and lungs, prostrate cancers in the bones, and colon carcinomas in the liver? Why, after many years, do some micrometastases develop into macrometastases, which eventually lead to patient death? And, finally, why do some cancers not develop any metastases at all?

Altogether, about 160 scientists from Europe, Israel, Japan, the USA, Singapore, and Turkey participate in the conference which runs from March 26th through March 29th . The conference organizers are Prof. Walter Birchmeier and Dr. Ulrike Ziebold (both Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine, MDC, Berlin-Buch) and Prof. Jürgen Behrens (University of Erlangen). Both Prof. Birchmeier and Prof. Behrens have published significant results about the formation of metastases during the past years. The conference is funded by the Deutsche Krebshilfe (German Cancer Research Foundation) and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).

Barbara Bachtler
Press and Public Affairs
Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch
Robert-Rössle-Straße 10; 13125 Berlin; Germany
Phone: +49 (0) 30 94 06 - 38 96
Fax: +49 (0) 30 94 06 - 38 33
e-mail: presse@mdc-berlin.de

Barbara Bachtler | idw
Further information:
http://www.mdc-berlin.de/en/news
http://www.wi.mit.edu/research/faculty/weinberg.html

Further reports about: EMT enable epithelial primary

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Scientists uncover the role of a protein in production & survival of myelin-forming cells
19.07.2018 | Advanced Science Research Center, GC/CUNY

nachricht NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts
18.07.2018 | New York Stem Cell Foundation

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>