A study by British universities have discovered for the first time how cancer cells migrate from organ to organ. Findings could transform the way cancer is treated, helping experts block the movement of the disease. Most cancer deaths are caused by secondary tumours in vital organs such as the brain or liver, which spread from the initial source. Team discovered cancer cells change into a ‘liquid’ state to move through the narrow passages of the body.
A breakthrough in cell research may pave the way for treatments which stop cancer spreading through the body. Scientists at British universities have worked out for the first time how cells are able to migrate from organ to organ. The new research, spearheaded by biologists at University College London, could transform the way cancer is treated. Crucially, the discovery has enabled scientists to work out how to block the movement of cells.
It means that aggressive cancer, which can quickly advance away from a primary tumour, might in the future be effectively frozen and isolated as soon as it is detected. Most cancer deaths are not caused by initial tumours, but by secondary tumours in vital organs such as the lungs or brain that are created by cancerous cells invading other places in the body. If the research can be used to develop an effective treatment it could save millions of lives each year. Professor Roberto Mayor, whose paper was published today in the Journal of Cell Biology, said: ‘This is an important breakthrough in the understanding of how cells move, which we strongly believe provides an insight into the way cancer spreads.