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Cancer cells spread by releasing 'bubbles', according to an MUHC study
Date:4/21/2008

r behaviour by more rapid increases in cell numbers and by stimulation of blood vessel growth, hallmarks of malignant brain tumors.

With this information we can imagine that many mutant proteins are not necessarily confined to the cells that make them, but rather can migrate and spread around as cargo of oncosomes, a process that could be referred to as formation of the oncogenic field effect, explained Dr. Rak. It demonstrates that cancer is a multi-cell process, where the cells talk to one another extensively. This goes against the traditional view that a single mutated cell will simply multiply uncontrollably to the point of forming a tumour. This discovery opens exciting new research avenues, but we also hope that it will lead to positive outcomes for patients.

Indeed, the presence of oncosomes (containing EGFRvIII or other proteins) in blood of cancer patients could become a clinical marker, meaning that doctors could screen for a tumours molecular characteristics instead of having to perform invasive surgery or biopsy. Currently, in the case of brain cancer, this very precise assessment cannot be performed without removing the tumour and therefore opening a patients skull. However, the assay and analysis of oncosomes would potentially only require taking a small sample of blood or cerebrospinal fluid. This would be a step in ensuring patient comfort and choosing the best therapeutic strategy for them, factors that are key in the journey towards personalized medicine in a hopefully not-too-distant future.


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Contact: Isabelle Kling
isabelle.kling@muhc.mcgill.ca
514-934-1934
McGill University Health Centre
Source:Eurekalert

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