Early Cancer Metastasis Discovery May Allow for Better Treatment Decisions

Early Cancer Metastasis Discovery May Allow for Better Treatment Decisions
When tumor cells become too densely packed, they start developing blood vessel-like structures — an early step in the process of cancer metastasis, researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) discovered in a recent study. The work adds a new level of understanding in the processes that guard cancer spread which may, in the future, allow physicians to assess the risk that a tumor will spread — tailoring the treatment to better contain that risk. It also paves the way for the development of drugs that target the newly discovered machinery to stop tumors from spreading. "We are good at targeting tumor growth, but we do not know enough about metastasis," Stephanie Fraley, a professor of bioengineering at UCSD and the study's senior study, said in a press release. Researchers have observed the vessel-like structures for some time, the research team explained in their report, published in the journal Nature Communications. But they did not know which factors triggered their development. The phenomenon, called vascular mimicry, is linked to some of the most aggressive cancers known. Researchers of the study, 3D collagen architecture induces a conserved migratory and transcriptional response linked to vasculogenic mimicry,” set out to explore potential factors in the tumor microenvironment, and found that tumor density is of key importance. When the environment in the tumor became too confined, the cells turned on a specific set of genes, the team d
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