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University of Granada researchers identify changes in tumor cells that lead to metastasis
Date:1/17/2012

Researchers at the Centro de Genmica e Investigacin Oncolgica (GENYO) of which the University of Granada, Pfizer and the Andalusian Regional Government are members have identified the genetic and phenotypic changes that cause tumor progression and metastasis. The process of metastasis -which is the main cause of cancer death- is caused by tumor cells invading distant organs with no direct anatomical relationship with the organ originally affected. For this to happen, it is necessary that these cells which researchers call "circulating tumor cells" (CTCs) , travel to these organs through blood.

The researchers detected CTCs undergoing cell division in a breast cancer patient on systemic treatment. Thus, CTCs have been demonstrated both to be able to adapt to hostile microenvironments as blood, and to resist treatment and divide and proliferate in other organs and tissues, causing metastasis. So far, this behavior had not been observed in this type of microenvironments.

The results of this study were described in the article "Biodynamics of Circulating Tumor Cell, Tumor Microenvironment and Metastasis", published in the journals Cancer Biology & Therapy, Clinical Translational Oncoly y Annals of Oncology. The researchers found that breast cancer patients with circulating tumor cells (CTCs) at baseline tend to develop metastasis and have shorter disease-free survival after treatment. Thus, detecting CTCs during and after treatment allows physicians to identify which patients are responding favorably to chemotherapy. Consequently, patients with CTCs while receiving chemotherapy have shorter disease-free survival and lower overall survival rates. This is due to the fact that these cells are resistant to conventional treatments performed according to the genetic characteristics of the tumor. Therefore, CTCs can survive chemotherapy and produce metastasis to other organs.

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Contact: Dr. Jos Antonio Lorente Acosta. GENYO manager director
jlorente@ugr.es
34-958-637-079
University of Granada
Source:Eurekalert

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