Navigation Links
Cancer's break-in tools possibly identified at Duke
Date:8/17/2009

A single cell in a 1-millimeter nematode worm is providing valuable new clues into cancer's deadliest behavior -- its ability to put down roots in new tissues after spreading throughout the body.

Duke University biologist David Sherwood has spent the last several years studying the mechanics of a single cell in the developing body of a worm called Caenorhabditis elegans. It's called the anchor cell and one of its jobs is to connect the developing animal's uterus with its vulva, a crucial step in ensuring the worm's fertility.

To establish this slender connection, the anchor cell must work its way through two layers of basement membrane, a dense, sheet-like barrier structure lining most tissues, including the epithelial cells in humans that are the hosts of many cancers.

In a paper appearing online Aug. 17 in the journal Developmental Cell, Sherwood and colleagues describe how the nematode's anchor cell uses a series of molecular signals to create a stretched opening in the membrane. They believe the process is essentially the same as the one cancer cells use to invade new tissues.

Together, these molecules, called integrin and netrin, may be a valuable new target in the efforts to halt cancer's spread via metastasis.

"Metastasis accounts for most of cancer's lethality," said Sherwood, who is an assistant professor of biology at Duke. "It's the most essential step in cancer progression, but it's the least understood."

To push a hole through the basement membranes, the worm's anchor cell forms several lancet-like points, called puncta. They look remarkably like a structure seen in cancer cells called invadopodia that are believed to have the same function, but modeling this part of metastasis in the lab has proven impossible so far because nobody has figured out how to make a basement membrane in a dish.

The abundant, cheap, rapidly multiplying worms -- and their basement membranes -- have enabled Sherwood to do a variety of experiments to narrow down the genes and molecular signals in play. And, with newly developed imaging technologies, they can actually watch as the cell invasion occurs.

"In vivo, you're dealing with individual cancer cells moving around the body. It is very hard to watch that,." Sherwood said. "And then asking the cancer cell 'what genes are you using to do that?' is even more difficult."

From the latest set of findings with the model organism, Sherwood believes that integrin helps the anchor cell orient itself toward the basement membranes, and that it also directs netrin to build the puncta in the proper place to ease an opening through. Interestingly, netrin is also the signal that encourages developing neuron cells to branch out and make new connections.

What's even more encouraging about both of these molecules is that they're outside the cell, Sherwood said, making them easier to target with possible drug therapy.

There are about 100 genes that seem to prevent cell invasion, and Sherwood's team is searching for those that might be the most effective. A gene called SPARC, for example, is known to be over-active in cancer cells, enabling easier penetration of the basement membrane. They are currently examining how this gene helps the anchor cell invade.

He said they would like to know how the cell turns on "invasiveness" to understand the best way to interrupt this potentially lethal behavior.

Sherwood's research was supported by a Basil O'Connor Award, Pew Scholars Award and a grant from the National Institutes of Health.


'/>"/>

Contact: Karl Leif Bates
karl.bates@duke.edu
919-681-8054
Duke University
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Infection contributes to the high rates of oropharyngeal cancers
2. Smoking increases risks for head and neck cancers for men and women
3. Smoking Boosts Risk for Head, Neck Cancers
4. Oral Sex Implicated in Some Throat and Neck Cancers
5. Generic prostate drug helps find high-risk cancers early
6. Finasteride unlikely to induce high grade prostate cancers
7. More Prostate Cancers Might Be Prevented
8. Ultrasound plus mammography finds more cancers, but increases false positives
9. MU researchers studying model to learn why certain cancers become resistant to drugs
10. New All-Natural Dietary Supplement Made from Muscadine Grape Skins Helps Inhibit Growth of Certain Cancers
11. Three Chemo Drugs Better Than Two for Advanced Head/Neck Cancers
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/26/2016)... North Carolina (PRWEB) , ... June 26, 2016 , ... ... release of a new product that was developed to enhance the health of felines. ... for centuries. , The two main herbs in the PawPaws Cat Kidney Support ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... ... Austin residents seeking Mohs surgery services, can now turn to Dr. Jessica Scruggs ... for medical and surgical dermatology. , Dr. Dorsey brings specialization to include Mohs surgery, ... Micrographic Surgery completed by Dr. Dorsey was under the direction of Glenn Goldstein, MD, ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... , ... June 25, 2016 , ... As a lifelong ... Cum Laude and his M.D from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. ... to Los Angeles to complete his fellowship in hematology/oncology at the UCLA-Olive View-Cedars Sinai ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... A recent article ... people are unfamiliar with. The article goes on to state that individuals are now ... of these less common operations such as calf and cheek reduction. The Los Angeles ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... Scientific Sessions in Dallas that it will receive two significant new grants to ... came as PHA marked its 25th anniversary by recognizing patients, medical professionals and ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... 2016 Dehaier Medical Systems Ltd. (NASDAQ: ... markets and sells medical devices and wearable sleep respiratory ... strategic cooperation agreement with Hongyuan Supply Chain Management Co., ... June 20, 2016, to develop Dehaier,s new Internet medical ... Dehaier will leverage Hongyuan Supply Chain,s sales platform to ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... Research and Markets has announced the addition of the ... to their offering. ... World Market for Companion Diagnostics covers the world market for ... report includes the following: , World IVD ... (N. America, EU, ROW), 2015-2020 , World IVD Companion ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... 24, 2016   Pulmatrix, Inc ., (NASDAQ: ... inhaled drugs, announced today that it was added to ... its comprehensive set of U.S. and global equity ... an important milestone for Pulmatrix," said Chief Executive Officer ... of our progress in developing drugs for crucial unmet ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: