Cancer Cells Goad Neighboring Cells to Become More “Stemmy”

GEN | August 29, 2019

Cancer cells exert a corrupting influence, drawing otherwise innocent cells into nefarious schemes. To bring the schemes to light, scientists based at the Francis Crick Institute have developed a labeling system for the metastatic niche. By inducing metastatic cells to release a cell-penetrating fluorescent protein, the system can localize corrupting influences that are ordinarily hidden in the crowds of cells that constitute bulk tissue. Already, the system has been used to identify healthy cells that respond to cancer cells by regressing to a stem-cell-like state. Once they acquire multilineage differentiation potential, the once-innocent cells may participate in various forms of corruption, helping cancer thrive. The system—which resulted from a project led by Ilaria Malanchi, PhD, senior group leader at the Francis Crick Institute and Joo-Hyeon Lee, PhD, research group leader at the Cambridge Stem Cell Institue—may serve as a research tool, characterizing the spread of cancer, or as a clinical tool, assessing patient responses to cancer treatments. “Our new technique allows us to study changes to cells in the tumor microenvironment with unprecedented precision,” asserted Malanchi. “This helps us to understand how these changes relate to tumor growth and metastasis, allowing us to develop better strategies to treat the disease.

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Industry experts in biotechnology PR share their advice on communicating in a highly regulated and technical environment.

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