Researchers from the Francis Crick Institute and the University of Copenhagen have possibly found a way to stop cancer cells from propagating in the body. The findings are published in EMBO Reports.
Tumours are travel all around the body as they cause cells known as fibroblasts to stiffen their surrounding tissues, thereby allowing cancer cells to squeeze through and get into the bloodstream to reach other organs. The team of scientists show that the fibroblasts can be protected from this effect.
When they added experimental drugs to the fibroblasts, the latter did not stiffen the tissue around the tumours. The cancer cells were thus kept trapped and could not move away from the tumour.
The researchers observed how cancer cells did not move from the tumour to the lungs and liver via the blood when the fibroblasts were targeted.
“This could be an exciting new way to harness the potential of the healthy tissue surrounding cancers to contain and restrain aggressive tumours – stopping cancer cells from breaking away and moving to new places in the body,” says co-lead author of the study, Dr Erik Sahai from the Francis Crick Institute.
When commenting on their findings, lead author Dr Janine Erler from BRIC at the University of Copenhagen said:
“It’s early days but a very promising new avenue of research. If further studies show this route can benefit patients, it could help crack one of the toughest challenges in cancer research – how to stop tumours spreading.
“As these fibroblasts are present in all solid tumours, our findings may be relevant to many different cancer types. The therapy we tested is used to treat inflammatory diseases and could be used to treat cancer patients.”