Cutting to the Source of Cancer Growth

Cancer metastasis aided by macrophages and surface protein S100A10

(RxWiki News) When cancer begins to spread to other parts of the body, curing it can be quite problematic. New research has helped identify a key contributor in cancer growth.

Researchers at the Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia have discovered that a protein, S100A10, can slow or halt cancer cell growth. By isolating this protein, scientists in the future could limit or stop the spread of cancer.

"Scientists are working to slow or halt the spread of cancer."

S100A10 is found on the surface of macrophage cells. Macrophages are white blood cells that defend human cells by isolating and destroying harmful germs within the body.

During the study, researchers discovered that the tumor did not grow when macrophages were not present. However, scientists were unsure just how macrophages were able to travel from other parts of the body into the tumor.

It turns out that S100A10 enables macrophages to enter the tumor by allowing them to chew through the tissue barrier. Macrophages can then release molecules that promote cancer cell growth. From there, these cancer cells develop and soon spread to other parts of the body.

If scientists can prevent S100A10 from working or stop macrophages from entering the tumor in the first place, tumor growth could possibly be slowed or stopped.

Lead researcher, David Waisman, Ph.D., professor in the Departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Pathology, and Canada Research Chair in Cancer Research at Dalhousie University, explains that when cancer cells develop to the point that they begin to spread, that's what ultimately kills the patient.

This discovery shows just how complex cancer really is, according to Waisman. There are multiple factors inside and outside of the malignant tumor that aid or hinder cancer development.

Waisman says the next step is to understand how S100A10 enables macrophages to cut through the tissue barrier. If scientists can discover how S100A10 works, therapies and methods may then be developed to stop the spread of cancer.

This study was published in the October edition of Cancer Research.

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Review Date: 
November 1, 2011