Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Researchers decode the molecular signals used by tumours to recruit mesenchymal stem cells

Its been known for years that tumours have the ability to recruit mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which is why they are sometimes so persistent and difficult to deal with. Unfortunately, this process is poorly understood on the molecular level. Today, a research team from the University of Michigan, led by Professor Russell Taichman, announced that it has successfully decoded "the molecular chatter" between cancer cells and MSCs.

A tumour is a lot like a wound that never heals, sending distress signals that attract MSCs, explain the researchers. Up until now, the nature of these signals was largely unknown. After experimenting on prostate and breast tumours, Taichman and his colleagues discovered that the CXCL16 molecule facilitates mesenchymal stem cells into prostate tumours.

"Now we know what messages tumours send to recruit and alter those healing cells, and we can take steps to block those messages." said Taichman.
"Our results provide the molecular basis for mesenchymal stem cell recruitment into tumours and how this process leads to tumour metastasis." extract from the study's abstract

The researchers believe that the study may lead in the development of new drugs with the ability to "derail tumour formation".
"This is especially important because this particular molecular signalling involves reactions among proteins that actually make cancer cells more migratory, more aggressive and more likely to spread." said the researchers

Jung, Y., Kim, J., Shiozawa, Y., Wang, J., Mishra, A., Joseph, J., Berry, J., McGee, S., Lee, E., Sun, H., Wang, J., Jin, T., Zhang, H., Dai, J., Krebsbach, P., Keller, E., Pienta, K., & Taichman, R. (2013). Recruitment of mesenchymal stem cells into prostate tumours promotes metastasis Nature Communications, 4 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms2766

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