Health In Focus
  • New study shows how cancer cells influence healthy cells surrounding the tumor to cause metastasis
  • A labeling system was developed to understand how normal, healthy non-cancerous cells are influenced by cancerous cells
  • The study resulted in the development of a system to tag healthy cells which are likely to regress to stem-cell-like states and consequently cause more growth and metastasis

Scientists have found that cancer cells cause neighboring cells to regress into stem-cell-like states and metastasize.

A group of researchers from Tumour-Host Interaction Laboratory, The Francis Crick Institute, London; Wellcome—MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, University of Cambridge; Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, University of Cambridge and Leibniz Institute on Aging, Fritz Lipmann Institute (FLI), Germany studied how cancer cells in a tumor influence healthy cells surrounding the tumor to cause metastasis.
Cancer Cells Influence Neighbor Cells Causing Metastasis

The study was led by Ilaria Malanchi at the Crick Institute and Joo-Hyeon Lee at the Cambridge stem cell institute.

Details of the Study

The research team discovered that healthy, non-cancerous cells in the tumor microenvironment were influenced by cancerous cells and regressed into stem-cell-like states thereby promoting tumor growth and aiding metastasis. They developed a labeling system for the metastatic group of cells where the cells release cell-penetrating fluorescent protein, and this gets into neighboring non-cancerous cells.

The colored labeled cells can be identified with non-colored cells which have not yet been influenced by cancerous cells. Ilaria's lab used this labeling and tagging system to study tumor cells in mouse breast cancer which had spread to the lungs.

Results of the Study

The study found that labeled parenchymal cells from the lung had features similar to stem cells with a capacity to renew itself and replicate. These cells from the lungs when mixed with tumor cells and cultured in the lab supported rapid tumor growth and helped the cancer thrive and spread.

Joo-Hyeon Lee, senior author of the paper, said that cells which received proteins from neighboring cancer cells almost turned into stem-cell-like states to become different cell types.

This system can be clearly used to tag cancerous cells and their influence over surrounding tumor microenvironments to predict and prognosticate the likelihood of metastasis.

The researchers hope that this system will be used by other scientists to study how cancers survive, grow and resist treatments.

The study was published in the journal Nature

Reference :
  1. Metastatic-niche labelling reveals parenchymal cells with stem features - (

Source: Medindia

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