Tumour microenvironment determines cancer spread

17 November 2015

The immediate surroundings of a cancerous cell have a substantial impact on how likely it is to spread, according to researchers at Notre Dame University.

The team initially expected to see greater metastasis in the brain when a tumour-suppressing protein called PTEN was deleted from cancer cells. However, in some cases the amount of metastasis was less than expected, even when lower amounts of PTEN was found in the cancerous brain cells.

Lead researcher Siyuan Zhang explained: "The microenvironment has tremendous impact on how the gene is expressed, what type of gene will be expressed. It's definitely not due to genetic mutation. The point of this paper is we should not overlook the huge influence of the tissue architecture, the tissue environment, the tissue composition.”

The researchers now plan to carry out further research to examine the possibility of altering tumour microenvironments to prevent the spread of cancer in a clinical setting.

Posted by Philip Briggs


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