Protein key to cancer cells ability to spread identified

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Protein key to cancer cells ability to spread identified

A protein that binds cancer cells together and allows them to invade tissues can be blocked, which could help in cancer cases.

U of G scientists have made a discovery that could reduce the spread of cancer by hindering a protein that binds cancer cells together and allows them to invade tissues.

The groundbreaking study identified a protein, known as cadherin-22, as a potential factor in cancer metastasis, or spread, and showed that hindering it decreased the adhesion and invasion rate of breast and brain cancer cells by up to 90 per cent.

“Cadherin-22 could be a powerful prognostic marker for advanced cancer stages and patient outcomes,” said lead author Prof. Jim Uniacke, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology. “If you can find a treatment or a drug that can block cadherin-22, you could potentially prevent cancer cells from moving, invading and metastasizing.”

Published in the journal Oncogene, the study looks specifically at hypoxia — low-oxygen conditions — in tumours.

Most solid cancer tumours that have outgrown their blood supply, and are therefore deprived of oxygen, are difficult to treat, and the cells within are capable of spreading rapidly and doing the most damage. In over a hundred breast and brain cancer patient tumour specimens, researchers found that the more hypoxic the tumour was, the more cadherin-22 it had.

Until now, little was known about how oxygen-deprived cancer cells bound together and interacted to spread. The U of G researchers found that it is precisely under conditions of low oxygen that cancer cells trigger the production of cadherin-22, putting in motion a kind of protein boost that helps bind cells together, enhancing cellular movement, invasion and likely metastasis.

Cadherin-22 is located on cell surfaces, allowing hypoxic cancer cells to stick together and migrate collectively as a group, said Uniacke.

Scientists have known for decades that hypoxia plays a part in tumour growth metastasis and poor patient outcome.

Read full article: Protein key to cancer cells ability to spread identified — ScienceDaily

Read Full Article: Protein key to cancer cells ability to spread identified — ScienceDaily

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