New direction for how cancer spreads

27 December 2014

New research has provided further insight about how blood and lymphatic vessels form in the gut, which could offer key information for better understanding of how cancer spreads.

The study from Cornell University has determined for the first time how arteries form to supply the looping embryonic gut with blood, and how these impact development of the lymphatic system.

Published in the journal Developmental Cell, the research opens up a new avenue for studies to devise novel treatments to prevent cancer metastasis and gut-specific lymphatic diseases. This is because lymphatic vessels are the main channels for spreading colorectal tumour cells.
"This is the first study to implicate arteries as the drivers of gut lymphatic development," said Natasza Kurpios, assistant professor of molecular medicine at the College of Veterinary Medicine and the paper's senior author. 

The gut lymphatic system is needed to absorb fat and transport it to the liver, where they are then distributed throughout the body. It is also key for helping cells target pathogens. However, researchers have always believed that lymphatic development depends on veins instead of arteries.

The new study links a gene called Pitx2, which controls organ development, to the formation of arteries and lymphatics.

Posted by Philip Briggs 


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