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Clue to How Cancer Cells Spread

Researchers are learning more about how melanoma spreads.

In a second human case, a Yale-led research team has found that a melanoma cell and a white blood cell can fuse to form a hybrid with the ability to metastasize. The finding provides further insight into how melanoma and other cancers spread from solid tumors with implications for future treatment.

The study was published on Jan. 27 in the journal PLOS ONE.

Cancer turns deadly when malignant cells spread from a primary tumor to other organs and tissues. Building on a theory first proposed more than a century ago, senior research scientist and study author John Pawelek collaborated with colleagues at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Center and the Denver Crime Laboratory to examine how cancer spreads from solid tumors.

The research team analyzed tumor biopsies from a patient with malignant melanoma who had received a bone-marrow transplant before developing cancer. They compared DNA from the primary melanoma and from lymph nodes where the cancer had spread. In both sites, they found a mixture of patient and donor DNA.

The presence of the mixed patient-donor DNA strongly suggests that white blood cells that normally attack cancer cells instead fused with them, forming a genetic hybrid that then spread, said Pawelek, who is a member of Yale Cancer Center. “The cancer cell and white blood cell DNA were mixed into the same nucleus. The hybrid has both the white blood cell propensity to move into lymph nodes as well as the dividing characteristics of the primary tumor.”

Read full article: Clue to How Cancer Cells Spread

Read Full Article: Clue to How Cancer Cells Spread

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