Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Nipping metastases in the bud

Date:
January 11, 2012
Source:
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
Summary:
The proliferation of metastases is often the main cause of complications and death from cancer. Scientists have now been able to isolate a protein that plays a major role in metastasis development, and showed that the formation of secondary cancers could be prevented by blocking this protein.

Breast cancer cells (green) find their niche in a periostin (red) micro-environment.
Credit: © ISREC / EPFL

An EPFL / ISREC team has shed new light on how cancer metastases develop. The results they have obtained will open the door to new therapeutic options for treating late stage cancers and preventing secondary tumors from growing.

Related Articles


The proliferation of metastases is often the main cause of complications and death from cancer. For the first time, researchers are looking very closely at the development of these metastases themselves, instead of focusing on the "primary" cancers from which they originated. In doing so, a team from the Swiss Center for Experimental Cancer Research (ISREC), at EPFL, was able to identify a protein that plays a major role in metastasis development, and showed that the formation of secondary cancers could be prevented by blocking this protein.

Their results have been published December 7, 2011, in the advance online edition of the journal Nature and will open the door to new therapeutic options for treating late stage cancers.

A vital protein for metastases

The researchers already knew that cancer cells spread widely throughout the body once a malignant tumor is established. These cells don't always result in a secondary cancer, however. It turns out that all cancer cells aren't created equal: only some of them, known as "cancer stem cells," can initiate metastases.

And in order to do this, they must settle into a spot -- a niche -- that is conducive for their development. The ISREC team was able to show that several conditions are necessary for cancer to propagate. "In particular, we were able to identify a protein, periostin, in the niches where metastases develop," explains Joerg Huelsken, holder of the EPFL Debiopharm Chair in Signal Transduction in Oncogenesis. "Without this protein, the cancer stem cell cannot initiate metastasis; instead, it disappears or remains dormant."

Periostin exists naturally as part of the extracellular matrix, and has been shown to play a role in fetal development. In adults, it is only active in specific organs -- the mammary glands, bones, skin and intestine. This research appears to prove that it plays an essential role in the environment that a cancer stem cell needs in order to develop a metastasis. Mice that were bred to lack this protein are resistant to metastasis formation. "We developed an antibody that adheres to this protein, making it inoperative, and we are hoping in this way to be able to block the process of metastasis formation," says Huelsken.

Minimal side effects in mice

These experiments that blocked the periostin protein resulted in very few side effects in the mice. "This doesn't necessarily mean the same will hold true in humans," the researcher cautions. "We're not even sure that we'll be able to find an equivalent antibody that will work in humans." This discovery is nonetheless very encouraging, especially since we now know that malignant tumors tend to spread more quickly than was previously believed. Preventing the development of metastases would thus appear to be an important therapeutic option that could limit the deleterious effects of cancers.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ilaria Malanchi, Albert Santamaria-Martínez, Evelyn Susanto, Hong Peng, Hans-Anton Lehr, Jean-Francois Delaloye, Joerg Huelsken. Interactions between cancer stem cells and their niche govern metastatic colonization. Nature, 2011; DOI: 10.1038/nature10694

Cite This Page:

Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. "Nipping metastases in the bud." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 January 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111207132645.htm>.
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. (2012, January 11). Nipping metastases in the bud. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111207132645.htm
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. "Nipping metastases in the bud." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111207132645.htm (accessed November 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

UN Says It Will Scale Up Its Ebola Response

UN Says It Will Scale Up Its Ebola Response

AFP (Nov. 20, 2014) — UN Resident Coordinator David McLachlan-Karr and WHO representative in the country Daniel Kertesz updated the media on the UN Ebola response on Wednesday. Duration: 00:51 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Takata Offers "sincerest Condolences" To Victims of Malfunctioning Airbag

Takata Offers "sincerest Condolences" To Victims of Malfunctioning Airbag

Reuters - US Online Video (Nov. 20, 2014) — U.S. Congress hears from a victim and company officials as it holds a hearing on the safety of Takata airbags after reports of injuries. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obesity Costs Almost As Much As War And Terrorism

Obesity Costs Almost As Much As War And Terrorism

Newsy (Nov. 20, 2014) — The newest estimate of the cost of obesity is pretty jarring — $2 trillion. But how did researchers get to that number? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Calling All Men: Here's Your Chance to Experience Labor Pains

Calling All Men: Here's Your Chance to Experience Labor Pains

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 20, 2014) — Chinese hospital offers men a chance to experience the pain of child birth via electric shocks. Sharon Reich reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins