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Mount Sinai Researchers Identify Mechanisms and Potential Biomarkers of Tumor Cell Dormancy
Date:10/27/2013

er of disseminated tumor cells in the bone marrow remained the same for several weeks (equivalent to ~ 3 years in humans). However, the number of tumor cells in the lungs increased shortly after the tumors were removed, suggesting that conditions within each organ had a long-lasting effect on the cells’ behavior.

In addition, the researchers discovered that lowering TGFß2 or p38 levels awakened dormant cells and fueled metastatic growth throughout the body.

These findings may have implications for estrogen-positive breast tumor cells, which have a similar genetic signature to that of dormant HNSCC cells.

“Our study is the first to identify specific characteristics found in cancer cells as well as in the microenvironment in which they are found that determine whether they will metastasize rapidly, posing a new threat to the patient, or will remain dormant for a period of time,” said Dr. Aguirre-Ghiso. “Eventually, we may be able to predict, based on markers detected in disseminated tumor cells and/or in the microenvironment, which patients have a dormant disease and which ones will need more aggressive treatment. This information may also lead to the development of new drugs that mimic the pathways that prevent tumor cells from metastasizing.”

About the Mount Sinai Health System
The Mount Sinai Health System is an integrated health system committed to providing distinguished care, conducting transformative research, and advancing biomedical education. Structured around seven member hospital campuses and a single medical school, the Health System has an extensive ambulatory network and a range of inpatient and outpatient services—from community-based facilities to tertiary and quaternary care.

The System includes approximately 6,600 primary and specialty care physicians, 12-minority-owned free-standing ambulatory surgery centers, over 45 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, and
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