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Cells’ grouping tactic points to new cancer treatments

27 July 2010

The mechanism that cells use to group together and move around the body has been discovered by CDB scientists - a finding that has implications for the development of new cancer treatments.

Dr Roberto Mayor

The study, which used embryonic cells, points to a new way of treating cancer where therapy is targeted at the process of cancer cells grouping together. The aim is to stop cancer cells from spreading and causing secondary tumours.

In order for cells to migrate they form protrusions - much like oars of a boat - in the direction that they want to travel. However, if a single cell is isolated it produces these oars in all directions and ends up rowing in circles. To move around effectively cells must stick together before attempting to travel.

Dr Roberto Mayor of CDB is the lead author of the research. He said: “Being able to form a group with neighbour cells is advantageous for migration of embryonic cells as well as cancer cells during tumour metastasis – they have strength in unity. The findings suggest an alternative way in which cancer treatments might work in the future if therapies can be targeted at the process of group formation to stop cancer cells from spreading and causing secondary tumours.”

Links:
Article in Developmental Cell
UCL News
Dr Roberto Mayor

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Page last modified on 20 may 10 14:52 by Glenda Young