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CSI-style DNA fingerprinting tracks down cause of cancer spread
Date:7/15/2013

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.


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Contact: Garth Sundem
garth.sundem@ucdenver.edu
University of Colorado Denver
Source:Eurekalert

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