'Piggy-backing' cells hold skin cancer clue

24 July 2014

Skin cancer cells work in tandem in order to spread further and at a faster rate, according to a new study in the UK, which could result in new drugs being formulated to tackle the most deadly form of skin cancer.

The report, published in Cell Reports by Cancer Research UK scientists at The University of Manchester, found that some melanoma cells are particularly fast growing, but not very good at invading the surrounding tissue, while other melanoma cells are the opposite – highly invasive but slow-growing.

In a tumour, the faster growing cells 'piggy-back' along with the more invasive cells, so together they can be more effective in establishing a new tumour once they have reached different parts of the body, the scientists discovered.

Dr Claudia Wellbrock, study author and Cancer Research UK scientist at The University of Manchester and a member of the Manchester Cancer Research Centre, said the research shows that melanoma can spread by 'co-operative invasion'.

She added: "Different types of cancer cells with different strengths and weaknesses are both present in the tumour at the same time and can work together to spread faster and more efficiently. This has profound implications for how we find cures for this terrible disease."

Posted by Edward Bartel

 

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