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.

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 July 31, 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 July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

AP (July 31, 2014) — Sarasota County, Florida health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after a dangerous bacteria killed one person and made another sick. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) — Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Peace Corps Pulls Workers From W. Africa Over Ebola Fears

Peace Corps Pulls Workers From W. Africa Over Ebola Fears

Newsy (July 30, 2014) — The Peace Corps is one of several U.S.-based organizations to pull workers out of West Africa because of the Ebola outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Weather Kills 2K A Year, But Storms Aren't The Main Offender

Weather Kills 2K A Year, But Storms Aren't The Main Offender

Newsy (July 30, 2014) — Health officials say 2,000 deaths occur each year in the U.S. due to weather, but it's excessive heat and cold that claim the most lives. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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