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Study provides clues to preventing and treating cancer spread
Date:7/28/2008

e cell receptor CCR5 get fewer cancer metastases than normal mice. CCR5 helps control the migration of cells through the body. He injected these knockout mice with all types of cells from normal mice, to try to make the mice form more metastases of melanoma (skin cancer).

The only cells that did it were those that appeared to be fibrocytes.

When van Deventer injected the mice with just 60,000 of these cells, the rate of metastases nearly doubled. "That's a big effect for a relatively small number of cells," he said.

Though cancer researchers don't usually study fibrocytes, it makes sense to van Deventer that fibrocytes could form the premetastatic niche. In healthy humans, fibrocytes travel through the bloodstream to areas of injury. Once there, they produce changes that are good for wounds. Unfortunately, these same changes can help cancers grow. It is not yet clear if fibrocytes are causing these problems in cancer patients. However, "there is some clinical data that suggests that these cells are increased in patients with metastatic cancer," he said.

The experiment also showed that injection of these cells induced MMP9, an enzyme that is known to promote cancer. The researchers considered this good news, since drugs are available that block MMP enzymes and have proven beneficial in treating cancer.

Still, many basic questions remain to be answered. How do cancers promote the formation of the premetastatic niche? Do they change the behavior of these circulating cells or simply increase their number? Are some patients at higher risk for metastasis because their environment changes their fibrocytes? Is some of the benefit of our cancer treatments lost because of inadvertent changes to these cells?

"These are daunting questions, but ones that would have pleased Dr. Paget," van Deventer said. "This paper gives us a place to start looking for the answers."


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Contact: Leslie Lang
llang@med.unc.edu
919-966-9366
University of North Carolina School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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