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Breast Cancer: Changing Tumor Cells into Fat Cells Stops Spread

Scientists have developed a novel drug combination that makes invasive breast cancer cells transform into fat cells. The treatment prevented metastasis in mice.

Metastasis is the process through which cancer cells escape from primary tumors and grow new tumors, or metastases, in other parts of the body. It is the leading cause of death from cancer.

An enabler of metastasis is the innate ability of cancer cells to take on the properties of other cell types.

This “plasticity” allows them to transform from anchored cells into ones that can travel and invade other tissues.

Now, researchers at the University of Basel in Switzerland have found a way to use cell plasticity to stop metastasis in breast cancer.

Instead of allowing the breast cancer cells to grow and migrate, they forced them to become fat cells that do not divide or travel.

The journal Cancer Cell has recently published a paper about the research.

“In future,” says senior study author Gerhard Christofori, who is a professor in the Department of Biomedicine, “this innovative therapeutic approach could be used in combination with conventional chemotherapy to suppress both primary tumor growth and the formation of deadly metastases.”

Metastasis and cell plasticity

The complex process of metastasis comprises a sequence of steps that scientists often refer to as the “metastatic cascade.”

There are three main stages in the cascade: invasion, in which cancer cells detach from the primary tumor environment; intravasation, in which the cells enter blood vessels; and extravasation, in which they exit blood vessels.

Cancer cells take on different properties to complete each of these stages.

 

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Source: Medical News Today