• Associate Sponsor

Scientists unlock how breast cancer cells spread

Cancer cells spread by migrating along protein fibers that serve as a path out of the original tumour.

By: IANS | New York | Published: April 28, 2016 11:41 am
breast cancer, cancer, breast cancer cells, cancer cells, how cancer cells spread, how do breast cancer cells spread, tumour, cancer tumour, breast cancer tumour, proteing fibres, metastasis, Scientists have found how breast cancer cells spread to other parts of the body, enabling development of potential strategies to curb the spread. (Source: Thinkstock Images)

A team of researchers — including an Indian-origin scientist — has found that breast cancer cells spread to other parts of the body by sliding around other cells, blocking their escape route out of the original tumour.

Metastasis — the spreading of cancer cells from one part of the body to another — is the leading cause of death among cancer patients. To invade other tissues in the body, cancer cells migrate along protein fibers that serve as a path out of the original tumour.


The researchers demonstrated a quantitative ruler for measuring how well a cell is able to slide. “By putting numbers to this cellular behaviour, we can not only discern which pathways regulate sliding, but also how much. This opens the door to finding the most powerful drivers of sliding behaviour and strategies to curb this invasive behaviour,” said one of the researchers, Anand Asthagiri of Boston’s Northeastern University.

The findings demonstrated the key role of cell sliding in supporting metastasis and the molecular pathways that allow this to happen, the researchers stated. The results provide a ruler to measure the extent to which genetic perturbations enable sliding — it offers a way to rank order molecular pathways and to identify combinations of genes that have synergistic effect on sliding potential.

“Sliding — and we believe invasiveness more broadly — is a property that’s progressively accrued, with each cancer-promoting event measurably shifting the degree of invasiveness. Having a ruler allows us to quantify how far cells have transformed and how effective one therapy is versus another,” Asthagiri noted.

For the study — published in Biophysical Journal — the team stamped a glass surface with micropatterned lines of fibronectin protein and then used time-lapse microscopy to study collisions between pairs of cells deposited on the adhesive fibers.

On micropatterns, they mimicked conditions in the tumour environment. 99 per cent of normal breast cells stopped and reversed direction upon physical contact with another cell. By contrast, about half of metastatic breast cancer cells responded to collisions by sliding past the other cell, maintaining their migratory path along the protein track.

For news updates, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ & Instagram

For all the latest Lifestyle News, download Indian Express App

  1. G
    Apr 28, 2016 at 4:25 pm
    It is now very clear that the so called cancer cells are invasive type non bio degradable energy particles and when they gain entry into our system start invading the host cells. Scientist should do well to find out how these non biodegradable energy particles are created and who is responsible for its spread. Surely Nature does not create such harmful substances. Then who creates them. Who allows these energy particles to spread in the atmosphere. What is required is to find out the cause of these energy particles and suggest measures to prevent their creation. Once these energy particles gain entry into our system nothing much can be done. The end is certain only the date will differ.
    1. S
      Apr 29, 2016 at 4:24 am
      When would there be a product fir patients to ring fence these rogue cells all aroundc and block spreading? There are thousands of papers coming on cancers these days from so many countries ..who Iis coordinating all these? As a general public it feels many labs are discovering the same wheel which has already been discoveredand wasting vvaluable time and energy in finding a cure ? There is a complete chaos. .and on top these findings don't reach to the doctors at the hospital in a timely manner also..Theremust be global body to ddisseminate these research findings to each hospital around the world..Every hospital should have staff to gather these latest research findings and update their physicians on regular basis.