Tumors cause cells, called fibroblasts, to stiffen the surrounding tissue so that cancer cells can grip it. This allows them to tunnel through to the blood stream and spread around the body. An international team of researchers has discovered a new way to potentially 'fence in' a tumor and help stop cancer cells spreading.
Researchers from the Francis Crick Institute and the University of Copenhagen said, "By using experimental drugs we were able to stop the fibroblasts from stiffening the tissue around tumors. Thus the healthy tissue trapped the cancer cells, blocking their movement away from the tumor."
The scientists tested the new approach on mice, and the results showed that targeting fibroblasts reduced the movement of cancer cells from the tumor to the lungs and liver through the blood stream.
The researchers said, "Since most deaths from cancer are caused when cancer cells travel to new sites in the body and grow as secondary tumors, the new method may lead to better ways to control the disease and save more lives."
Erik Sahai from the Francis Crick Institute and co-lead author of the study said, "This could be an exciting new way to harness the potential of the healthy tissue surrounding cancers to contain and restrain aggressive tumors, stopping cancer cells from breaking away and moving to new places in the body."