A new study on cancers reveals an answer to longstanding question about how tumors invade new tissues. Scientists did a lot of research in an effort to understand how pieces of a tumor can break off, travel through the bloodstream, and grow elsewhere.
It appears that cancers use cells in bone marrow to create a fertile environment for tumors to spread to other parts of the body as bone marrow cells help make blood vessels that provide oxygen and other nutrients needed for the spreading.
There are drugs that can slow down the growth of blood vessels in cancers and in that way help prevent metastasis. The researchers realized they needed to use the drugs earlier to prevent metastasis. It is actually metastasis that kills and all the efforts to stop this from happening are welcome.
The research was done on mice by inserting lung cancer cells into their skin. The bone marrow cells were labeled fluorescently, so that they could be watched. This is what the researchers noticed: “The marrow cells appeared to aid the spread of cancer by making a natural protein called vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 1, which is thought to spur the formation of tumor-feeding blood vessels. When the mice were injected with molecules that blocked the protein, VEGFR1, metastasis stopped.” ( By John Lauerman, Bloomberg News)
If there were no bone marrow cells, the tumors wouldn’t have where to land.
Cornell Company is working on the development of immune proteins, called antibodies, which block bone marrow cells in the bloodstream. Human tests of the antibodies against metastatic cancer should take place next year.