Study Sheds Light On Metastasis Signaling Pathway
A study by Adriano Marchese, Ph.D., and colleagues, published in the March 16 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, reveals new findings on how a tumor spreads to different regions of the body. The process of metastasis is one of the characteristics of malignant tumors. If a tumor metastasized quickly, prognosis is even worse. Patient survives less due to the complications caused by metastases. Lung cancer, for example, particularly small cell cancer, quickly spreads to the nervous system. Often the first symptoms are caused by these metastases of cancer, such as headache, dizziness, vision problems and others. So far, no definitive therapies to block metastasis have been developed. There is, in turn, the possibility to decrease the metastatic tumors with chemotherapy. Therefore trying to find new ways to prevent this complication (metastasis) may increase patient survival.
Researchers have studied the signaling pathway involved in the process of tumor metastasis. Signaling requires the presence of two molecules: the first molecule, CXRR4, which is released into circulation, find the receiver, namely CXCL12, and binds to it, activating it. The two molecules form what is called ligand-receptor complex. The study author, Adriano Marchese, Ph.D., notes that the objective study was to better understand the purpose of the signaling pathways. “What do we have now is trying to understand the molecular details,” Marchese said.
CXCR4, that is chemokine receptor type 4, is a surface molecule that appears in several cancers such as thyroid, pancreas, breast, lung. This molecule is also known as fusin or CD184 (cluster of differentiation 184). This molecule is implied not only in metastasis, but also in mobilization of hematopoietic stem cells into the bloodstream.
Researchers have used a HeLa cell culture, also called immortal cells, because they can be divided an indefinite number of times in the laboratory, as long as conditions are kept for survival (ie nutrients, pH, temperature, moisture, vitamins and other ). Originally, this cell line derived from cervical cancer, and they were taken from a patient who died of this type of cancer. Using this cell line, scientists have discovered the molecule that plays a key role in metastasis. Researchers hope to develop targeted therapies on this molecule in the future in order to prevent or stop the process of metastasis.
Although studies are promising, research in this direction is just beginning. Scientists must seek drugs that block the target molecules in order to block the route of metastasis.