Cells Near Breast Cancer Play Role in Its Spread, Could Be Therapy Avenue, Study Reports

Cells Near Breast Cancer Play Role in Its Spread, Could Be Therapy Avenue, Study Reports
The environment that surrounds breast cancer cells is crucial to the cells migrating to other parts of the body and taking root, according to a study arguing that new treatments could be developed around a molecule that is part of the process. The molecule, DDR2, is involved in communication between migrating cancer cells and the mesenchymal stem cells surrounding them, and paves the way for the tumor to settle elsewhere. The study, “Mesenchymal Stem Cell-Induced DDR2 Mediates Stromal-Breast Cancer Interactions and Metastasis Growth,” appeared in the journal Cell Reports. "A role for the tumor microenvironment in metastasis [the spread of cancer] is being unraveled," Celina Kleer, MD, a professor of Pathology at the University of Michigan Medical School and senior author of the study, said in a press release. "If we can understand these mechanisms, we can find ways to inhibit them and prevent metastasis." Kleer's team believed the molecular and cellular environment surrounding the spread of cancer could offer clues to how and why tumor cells take root elsewhere. The team examined healthy tissue from breast cancer patients whose cancer was spreading. Among the cells near the tumors were mesenchymal stem cells. Earlier research had shown that this cell type influences cancer growth. Kleer's team discovered the stem cells are involved in the spread of cancer as well. Both the cancer cells and the stem cells express DDR2, a factor known a
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