Sly Tactics: Cancer Found To Smuggle Through Secret Tunnels

Credit: Ed Uthman

How does cancer spread so effectively? In a surprising update, researchers have found cancer uses secret pathways to communicate and convert its neighbours.

The new study published in the Faseb Journal, used red or blue colour coded fluorescent tags to label, and study protein flow around cancer cells. They found that when separate cells were cultured together, these colours began to intermingle as material was exchanged across the membrane. But how was it happening?

Working out how cancer spreads in healthy tissue could be a game changer 

 

"I hope the knowledge we provide here is paving the way to engineer 'super-spreading' agents, with increased abilities to diffuse within tumors and even reach the healthy cells involved in tumor progression."

 

 

The team found that a protein called Rab8 was altered in cancer cells; a protein normally involved with protein and organelle transport. When they studied cancer in a mouse model, they found the transport was contact dependent but that healthy cells were being 'infected' with material by their cancerous neighbours. 

"Mexican drug lords are not the only ones who use secret tunnels to move material across seemingly impenetrable borders. At the cellular level, it appears that cancer cells do the same thing. Now that we know these tunnels exist we can shut them down or use them to deliver lifesaving therapies."

Read more at MedicalXpress