A new, key component in the spread of lung cancer that may also block spread of lung cancer with drugs has been discovered by researchers.
A team led by scientists at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center found a way to identify metastasis-prone lung cancer cells and then uncovered a mechanism that shifts primary tumor cells into a more deadly type of cell with the capacity to move elsewhere in the body.
The researchers found that when a protein called Jagged2 binds externally to Notch, a membrane protein that sticks out through the surface of a cell, it suppresses a microRNA that thwarts metastasis inside the cell.
"Jagged2 suppresses miR-200 and drives metastasis as a consequence," said paper senior author Jonathan Kurie, professor in MD Anderson's Department of Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology.
"It's been known for some time that Notch is involved in cancer, but no one really knew how," said Kurie.
The study has been published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.