Navigation Links
Study reveals mechanisms cancer cells use to establish metastatic brain tumors

NEW YORK, NY, February 27, 2014 New research from Memorial Sloan Kettering provides fresh insight into the biologic mechanisms that individual cancer cells use to metastasize to the brain. Published in the February 27 issue of Cell, the study found that tumor cells that reach the brain and successfully grow into new tumors hug capillaries and express specific proteins that overcome the brain's natural defense against metastatic invasion.

Metastasis, the process that allows some cancer cells to break off from their tumor of origin and take root in a different tissue, is the most common reason people die from cancer. Metastatic brain tumors are ten times more common than primary brain cancers.

Yet most tumor cells die before they can take root in the brain, which is better protected than most organs against colonization by circulating tumor cells. To seed in the brain, a cancer cell must dislodge from its tumor of origin, enter the bloodstream, and cross densely packed blood vessels called the blood-brain barrier. Until now, little research has been done into how metastatic brain tumors develop, but previous mouse experiments that imaged metastatic breast cancer cells over time have shown that of those cancer cells that do make it to the brain, fewer than one in 1,000 survive.

"We didn't know why so many of these cells die," says Joan Massagu, PhD, Director of the Sloan Kettering Institute and senior author of the study. "What kills them? And how do occasional cells survive in this vulnerable state sometimes hiding out in the brain for years to eventually spawn new tumors? What keeps these rare cells alive and where do they hide?"

In the Cell study, Dr. Massagu, with Fellow Manuel Valiente, PhD, and other team members, found that in mouse models of breast and lung cancer two tumor types that often spread to the brain many cancer cells that enter the brain are killed by astrocytes. These killer cells, the most common type of brain cell, secrete a protein called Fas ligand.

When cancer cells encounter this protein, they are triggered to self-destruct. The exceptional cancer cells that escape the astrocytes do so by producing a protein called Serpin, which acts as a sort of antidote to the death signals fired at them by nearby astrocytes.

After imaging defiant metastatic cells in the brains of mice, researchers noticed that the cells that were able to survive grew on top of blood capillaries, each cell sticking closely to its vessel "like a panda bear hugging a tree trunk," Dr. Massagu says. They found that the tumor cells produce a protein that acts like Velcro to attach the cells to the outer wall of a blood vessel.

"This hugging is clearly essential," Dr. Massagu explains. "If a tumor cell detaches from its vessel, it gets killed by nearby astrocytes. By staying on, it gets nourished and protected, and may eventually start dividing to form a sheath around the vessel."

Under the microscope, the researchers watched these sheaths of cancer cells around the blood capillaries grow into tiny balls, which eventually became tumors. "Once you've seen it, you can never forget this image," Dr. Massagu says.

The tumor-cell survival factors uncovered by this study might one day be targeted with drugs to further diminish people's risk of metastasis. Dr. Massagu is particularly interested in the ability of tumor cells to hug blood vessels, as he suspects this behavior may be essential for the survival of metastatic cancer cells not only in the brain but also in other parts of the body where metastatic tumor growth can occur.

"Most cancer patients are actually at risk of having their tumor spread to multiple sites," Dr. Massagu notes. For example, breast cancers can metastasize to the bones, lungs, and liver, as well as to the brain. "What we may be looking at," he adds, "is a future way to prevent metastasis to many organs simultaneously" using drugs that make tumor cells let go of the blood vessels they cling to.

Contact: Caitlin Hool
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Related medicine news :

1. Study Suggests Vaccine May Help Kids With Brain Cancer
2. Study reveals how cancer drug causes diabetic-like state
3. Coffee Drinking in Pregnancy Wont Lead to Sleepless Baby: Study
4. Lower GI problems plague many with rheumatoid arthritis, Mayo Clinic study finds
5. Veggies Like Broccoli, Cabbage May Help Fight Breast Cancer: Study
6. No Added Cancer Risk From Hip Replacement Materials: Study
7. Reported Decline in U.S. Pneumonia Deaths May Be False: Study
8. Early Study Finds Some Promise for Lung Cancer Vaccine
9. Narcissists Often Ace Job Interviews, Study Finds
10. Sexual objectification of female artists in music videos exists regardless of race, MU study finds
11. Soy may alleviate hot flashes in menopause, large-scale study finds
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Study reveals mechanisms cancer cells use to establish metastatic brain tumors
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... For the first time, ... Two Organizations, One Beat ” campaign. The partnership between the two groups began in ... in MAP International’s cause. , MAP International was founded in 1954 and is an ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... 25, 2015 , ... Dental professionals who would like to become more proficient ... attend Dr. Mark Iacobelli’s Advanced Implant Mentoring (AIM) CE course. Courses will be held ... the co-founders of Advanced Implant Mentoring (AIM), Dr. Iacobelli and Dr. D’Orazio are proud ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... (PRWEB) , ... November 25, 2015 , ... The McHenry ... a recent successful appellate decision obtained by Attorneys Francisco J. Botto and Alex C. ... v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Comm’n, 2015 IL App (2d) 130884WC. , According to court ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... SCOTTSDALE, AZ) - Today, ... specializing in both surgical and non-surgical treatments, announced the expansion of his private ... Plastic Surgery. , Highly trained and nationally recognized for his natural approach, ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... In an ongoing Clinical ... Center (RMC) in Chicago, IL, UV Angel is evaluating the efficacy of its product ... intensive care units (totaling 30 beds) from May 2014 through October 2015 at a ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/26/2015)... and Markets ( ) has announced the addition of ... - Rise in Cardiac Disorders and Growing Awareness among People ... Boston scientific and others. ... others. --> The market is dominated by ... scientific and others. Asia ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... 26, 2015 ... "2016 Future Horizons and Growth Strategies ... Market: Supplier Shares, Country Segment Forecasts, Competitive ... offering. --> ) has ... Future Horizons and Growth Strategies in the ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... 26, 2015 ) ... Administration of High Viscosity Drugs" report to ... announced the addition of the "Self Administration ... offering. --> Research and Markets ( ... "Self Administration of High Viscosity Drugs" ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: