Understanding metastasis

HealthGal Health Guide
  • It's a word none of us want to hear.  It's one thing to hear the diagnosis cancer, it's another to hear that the cancer has spread to other locations, or metastized.  Clearly in order to treat and cure cancer, and especially in an effort to prevent metastasis of the cancer - experts need to understand what happens or what allows metastatic disease to occur.


    Scientists have discovered the two key processes that allow cancer cells to change the way they move - so that they can successfully spread to other areas of the body (reported in a study in the journal Cell).  The research found that there is a constant competition between two proteins called Rac and Rho, and that process seems to allow cancer cells to change shape and move easily through the body to other locations.  They specifically looked at aggressive metastatic skin cancer cells and saw that the cells were able to alternate between round shape and stretchy elongated shape - which was the state enabling them to move easily.

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    The Rac process is actually complicated and involves a protein NEDD9, DOCK3 and an activated protein ARHGAP22.  To bottom line it - now that experts have clear evidence of the cell shape change - they can begin to investigate ways to prevent it.  That will have huge implications in cancer treatment, especially if metastasis has already occured - since turning off metastasis may mean holding cancer at bay and extending someone's life.  And skin melanomas are of special interest, because the metastasis and mortality rate with those cancers are high.


    So one step forward in conquering cancer!!



Published On: January 05, 2009