Scientists uncover how lung cancer spreads
26 December 2014
Scientists have unraveled the cellular mechanism behind the spread of lung cancer. Researchers at the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute discovered that the ties binding cells together are controlled by a protein called TIAM1, which get severed when cell maintenance work goes wrong.
Old cell parts are routinely scrapped by healthy cells, to break them down and for reuse. But the process spins out of control in lung cancer cells, which scraped too many TIAM1 ties. The spread of lung cancer could be stopped by targeting the recycling process and keeping the cells stuck firmly together.
According to lead researcher Dr Angeliki Malliri, at the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute at the University of Manchester, the research showed for the first time how lung cancer cells severed ties with their neighbours and start to spread around the body, by hijacking the cells' recycling process and sending it into overdrive, ANI reported. The spread of lung cancer could be stopped by targeting this flaw.
The research is published in Cell Reports.
The scientists have taken microscopic images revealing that the protein ties tethering cells together get severed in lung cancer cells, Newsroom America reported.
In the UK almost 43,500 new cases of lung cancer are registered each year. Lung cancer, the most common cause of cancer deaths kills over 35,000 people in the UK each year.
According to Nell Barrie, Cancer Research UK's senior science information manager, lung cancer caused more than one in five of all cancer deaths in the UK and it was vital that effective new treatments to fight the disease and save more lives were discovered.
Barrie said early-stage research like this was essential to find treatments which could one day block cancer spread - which would be a game changer, adding, it was also crucial to find ways to diagnose the disease earlier, when treatment would more likely succeed and the cancer was less likely to have spread.