Navigation Links
CSI-style DNA fingerprinting tracks down cause of cancer spread

The University of Colorado Cancer Center along with Yale University and the Denver Crime Lab report in the journal PLOS ONE the first proof of cancer's ability to fuse with blood cells in a way that gives cancer the ability to travel, allowing previously stationary cancer cells to enter the bloodstream and seed sites of metastasis around the body. The work used DNA fingerprinting of a bone marrow transplant patient with cancer, along with DNA fingerprinting of the patient's bone marrow donor, to show that subsequent metastatic cancer cells in the patient's body carried parts of both genomes, fused together into a hybrid cancer cell.

Metastasis is responsible for the overwhelming majority of cancer deaths and there are many theories as to how it occurs, but the problem remains yet unsolved. John Pawelek, PhD, at Yale has pointed out that the combination of a cancer cell with a blood cell could explain how a cancer cell acquires the ability to move through the body. The problem is there has been no way to prove this through genetic analyses of the tumor cells they are too similar to the patient's non-tumor cells and so you can't tell if the mutations that allow a cancer cell to travel arose in the cell itself or through fusion with another source.

"One night on a bus ride returning from a conference, John pointed out that, in a patient with a bone marrow transplant, the blood cells come from someone else one person with two genomes," says Richard Spritz, MD, investigator at the CU Cancer Center and professor of pediatrics at the CU School of Medicine. "He had received a pathology specimen of a melanoma tumor that had metastasized to the brain of a patient who had previously received a bone marrow transplant from his brother, and he asked me whether, as a collaboration, we could distinguish between the donor and patient genomes in a cancer cell? I knew that one of the best ways to accomplish this was by DNA fingerprinting."

And so began a wide-reaching collaboration to include, among others, Greggory LaBerge, PhD, who had earned his doctorate in the Spritz lab and was now Director of the Denver Police Department Forensics and Evidence Division.

"This is one of the first instances I know of in which forensic technology has been used to support basic science," Spritz says. "John isolated metastatic cancer cells using technology available at the CU Cancer Center, and Greg did DNA fingerprinting. Between Yale, CU, and the Denver Crime Lab, this is really a remarkable collaboration." After much dedicated work to this single tumor, they found that the entire tumor was populated by cancer cell hybrids with genomes containing both donor and patient DNA.

"Is fusion the mechanism that allows all cancer cells to travel? It's too early to tell, but research toward answering this question is ongoing," Spritz says. He points out that fusion leading to metastasis is likely to be at least somewhat common, as they found this mechanism in the first case they tested. "Of course it could be a fluke," he says. "But I don't think so."

"The finding could have major implications for the treatment of metastatic cancers of many kinds. It really focuses your thinking if traveling tumor cells essentially think they are blood cells, that means we might be able to focus approaches to attack them," Spritz says.


Contact: Garth Sundem
University of Colorado Denver

Related biology news :

1. Metabolic fingerprinting: Using proteomics to identify proteins in gymnosperm pollination drops
2. Chemical fingerprinting tracks the travels of little brown bats
3. lobSTR algorithm rolls DNA fingerprinting into 21st century
4. Geology tracks eruptions, earthquakes, erosion, extinctions & more
5. Sequencing tracks animal-to-human transmission of bacterial pathogens
6. New DNA-method tracks fish and whales in seawater
7. Molecular spectroscopy tracks living mammalian cells in real time as they differentiate
8. New technology tracks sparrow migration for first time from California to Alaska
9. U of T-led study cracks universal RNA code, suggests a new cause for autism
10. H7N9 influenza: History of similar viruses gives cause for concern
11. Less haze in Singapore as the cause becomes clearer and more complex
Post Your Comments:
(Date:5/9/2016)... Elevay is currently known as ... for high net worth professionals seeking travel for work ... world, there is still no substitute for a face-to-face ... your deal with a firm handshake. This is why ... of citizenship via investment programs like those offered by ...
(Date:4/26/2016)... -- Research and Markets has announced the ...  report to their offering.  , ,     (Logo: ... forecast the global multimodal biometrics market to grow ... 2016-2020.  Multimodal biometrics is being implemented ... healthcare, BFSI, transportation, automotive, and government for controlling ...
(Date:4/13/2016)... April 13, 2016  IMPOWER physicians supporting Medicaid patients ... a new clinical standard in telehealth thanks to a ... the higi platform, IMPOWER patients can routinely track key ... body mass index, and, when they opt in, share ... visit to a local retail location at no cost. ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... ... Researchers at the Universita Politecnica delle Marche in Ancona combed medical journal articles ... findings are the subject of a new article on the Surviving Mesothelioma website. ... blood, lung fluid or tissue of mesothelioma patients that can help point doctors to ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... CAMBRIDGE, Mass. , June 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... the development of novel compounds designed to target ... compound, napabucasin, has been granted Orphan Drug Designation ... in the treatment of gastric cancer, including gastroesophageal ... cancer stemness inhibitor designed to inhibit cancer stemness ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... -- Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital has signed a ... serve as their official health care provider. As ... provide sponsorship support, athletic training services, and most ... athletes and families. "We are excited ... to bring Houston Methodist quality services and programs ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016  The Biodesign Challenge (BDC), a university ... to harness living systems and biotechnology, announced its winning ... New York City . ... showcased projects at MoMA,s Celeste Bartos Theater during the ... MoMA,s senior curator of architecture and design, and ...
Breaking Biology Technology: