The body system that helps prevent cancer may itself be the traitor. These new findings of a study, led by investigators at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC), reveal that infection-fighting white blood cells play a role in activating cancer cells and facilitating their spread to secondary tumours. This research, published today in the Journal of Clinical Investigation has significant implications for both the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
"We are the first to identify this entirely new way that cancer spreads," says senior author Dr. Lorenzo Ferri, MUHC director of the Division of Thoracic Surgery and the Upper Gastrointestinal (GI) Cancer Program. "What's equally exciting is medications already exist that are being used for other non-cancer diseases, which may prevent this mechanism of cancer spread or metastasis." According to Dr. Ferri, the next steps are to validate if these medicines will work for the prevention and treatment of cancer metastasis, and then to determine the optimal timing and dosing.