Authors: Emily Brown, Future Science Group
New research has revealed how skin cancer cells may unite in order to achieve faster spread to surrounding tissues. The findings are the result of an investigation carried out in zebra fish by investigators at The University of Manchester (UK) and were reported yesterday in the journal Cell Reports.
The Manchester team established that melanoma cells can be distinguished by their ability to invade surrounding tissue. Some tumor cells were demonstrated to be especially fast growing, yet less able to invade the surrounding area. Conversely, other cells in the tumor were found to be highly invasive yet slow growing.
“We used to think that cancer cells spread by first specializing in invading other parts of the body and then change in order to grow rapidly. But this research shows that melanoma can spread by ‘co-operative invasion’,” commented Claudia Wellbrock, study author from The University of Manchester.
Evidence from this study suggests that these cells with distinct invasion properties cooperate in order to be more effective at reaching other parts of the body and then establishing a new tumor.
“Different types of cancer cells with different strengths and weaknesses are both present in the tumor at the same time and can work together to spread faster and more efficiently. This has profound implications for how we find cures for this terrible disease,” continued Wellbrock.
The researchers suggest that the findings could be useful in the development of new drugs to tackle melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.
Source: Cancer Research UK press release