NEW YORK (May 1, 2009) -- Traditionally, cancer biologists have embraced a simple and direct model of the disease process: The tumor -- the "seed" -- was seen as bearing total responsibility for the spread of cancer to distant tissues -- the "soil" in which the seed embedded itself, grew, and reproduced. The result was a seed-dominant model that determined the way doctors treated cancer, using strategies targeting the tumor seed but neglecting the role of the soil.
Recently, however, some researchers have been focusing on the permissive microenvironment, or the metastatic niche, that forms in particular tissues located far from the primary tumor, well before full metastasis takes hold.
"In cancer, it is metastatic disease that causes morbidity and mortality," says Dr. David Lyden, co-author of an article in the April 2009 issue of Nature Reviews Cancer.
"At our lab, we're developing a strategic approach to studying metastasis. Our goal is ultimately to be able to predict and pre-empt the process -- early, if possible, but even in advanced metastasis," adds Dr. Lyden, the Stavros S. Niarchos Associate Professor in Pediatric Cardiology, an investigator in the Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, and associate professor of cell and development biology at Weill Cornell Medical College.
Led by Dr. Lyden, a team of researchers is looking at the molecular and cellular players that mediate changes at future sites of metastasis such as liver, lung, brain or bone, and thereby direct the migration patterns of tumor cells.
The group has zeroed in on several of these essential players, including bone marrow-derived cells and growth factors secreted by the tumor itself. These, Dr. Lyden explains, instruct the pre-metastatic niche to get ready for a long visit, one that will require comfortable accommodations for a rapidly growing population of permanent guests.
If the pre-metastatic niche does the t
|Contact: Andrew Klein|
New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College