Some interesting research has just been published in the Cancer Discovery scientific journal identifying a protein that can reduce the spread of cancer.
A five-amino acid protein fragment has been identified as reducing the metastatic spread of breast, prostate and lung cancer in mice. The research was carried out by US and Norwegian researchers from the Boston Children’s Hospital, Weill Cornell Medical College and the University of Bergen in Norway suggest that the protein could be used to potentially block the spread of various cancers.
Cancer usually kills not because of the primary source (the initial tumor) but because of it’s spreading throughout the body, the metastasis. If you can prevent metastasis of cancer, then you can dramatically reduce mortality rates. Most cancers usually spread throughout the body and impact on other organs, eventually causing organ failure and death.
One of the researchers, Dr Randolph Watnick, has in the past demonstrated that cancers capable of metastasis actually produce proteins that help them spread throughout the body. Tumors that cannot metastasize release prosaposin and this protein activates expression of a second protein called thrombospondin-1 in tissues throughout the body where metastatic tumor cells can spread. The protein Thrombospondin-1 makes these otherwise-permissive tissues resistant to metastasis.
The study used models of various cancers, marrow transplants and gene knockout experiments to confirm their findings.
Dr Watnick suggests: “Others have shown that tumors recruit monocytes to future metastatic sites, which help to set up a permissive environment for tumor cells to metastasize. Our results suggest that non-metastatic tumors do the same thing, but instead of creating a permissive environment, the monocytes create a refractory environment by producing thrombospondin-1.”
Some very interesting research that will hopefully lead to drugs that dramatically limit the spread of cancer throughout the body.