|Illustration of the early stage of metastasis, called|
"intravasation". Tumor cells (blue) in contact with
the bloodstream experience shear forces that can
be strong enough to exceed the adhesion forces
keeping them attached to the primary tumor.
Once released into the bloodstream, they
become circulating tumor cells capable of spreading
the disease to other sites (Source: newswise.com)
Today, doctors try to slow or stop metastasis with chemotherapy, but these treatments are not very effective. However, a new approach has now been published in Nature Chemical Biology. A team of Stanford researchers has developed a protein therapy that disrupts the process that causes cancer cells to break away from original tumor sites.
When two Gas6 proteins link with two Axl proteins, the signals that are generated enable cancer cells to leave the original tumor site, migrate to other parts of the body. The new study seeks to stop this by preventing the two proteins Axl and Gas6 from interacting. The researchers created a harmless version of Axl that acts like a decoy, that latches on to Gas6 proteins in the blood stream and prevents them from linking Axls present on cancer cells.
The treatment was given to mice with aggressive breast and ovarian cancers, and the breast cancer treatment Group had 78% fewer nodules when treated with the decoy protein.
For further reading, please visit: phys.org