The caspase-8 gene prevents the metastasis of the neuroblastoma. This research was conducted at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and the University of California at San Diego (UCSD).
Cancer cells that have broken itself from the main primary tumor have lost the function of this gene. Hence it is clear that caspase-8 gene is responsible for inhibiting metastasis.
Neuroblastoma is addressed to all tumors present in the nervous system. It is commonly seen in children at the age of one year. It forms about 10% of the childhood carcinomas.
When caspase-8 gene codes for the particular protein it always results in the metastasis of the tumor. The tumor is never present in the primary stage. In case of bringing back the functioning of the gene results in the containment of the spread of the tumor in the body.
The research is very important as it gives us an alternative in the treatment modalities of metastasizing neuroblastoma.
Integrins are molecules present on the surface of the cells including neuroblastoma. The main function of the Integrins molecule is that they anchor the cells with the extra cellular matrix.
Extra cellular matrix is the material present outside the cell, which gives structure to the tissue. When caspase-8 goes and binds to these Integrin molecules it triggers apoptosis.
But in case of tumor that is metastasizing the unbound Integrin molecules are free and when caspase-8 bind to it results in Integrin-mediated death (IMD). By this technique all the free and moving cancerous cells are destroyed by the Integrin molecules before they can affect another distant organ.
The research team conducted experiments using tumor cells and introducing them in the laboratory embryo models. When caspase-8 gene was blocked them the tumor cells began to spread to the lung and bone marrow.
When the neuroblastoma cells were implanted in the adult embryo models tumor metastasis to ovary, adrenal gland, kidney and liver were seen. These metastasizing cells were tested and they were found to have lost the expression of the caspase-8 gene. But this gene did not affect the growth of the tumor cells.
One important discovery that was made is that when the gene is present a number of cells present outside the tumor underwent apoptosis. This of great value for patients suffering from metastasizing neuroblastoma as it will help in the development of new treatment modalities.