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Mayo Clinic researchers discover cancer cells may move via wave stimulation

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Mayo Clinic researchers have uncovered a new cellular secret that may explain how certain cancers move and spread -- a feature of cancers that makes treatment especially difficult. If the mechanism that drives cancer movement -- also called metastasis -- can be understood well enough to manipulate it, new and better treatments can be developed for patients with metastatic cancers.

Significance of the Mayo Clinic Research

The Mayo researchers focused on odd protrusions observable by microscope on the surface of certain cancer cells: circular waves. Until now, no one has fully understood the function of these waves. The Mayo findings in the current edition of Cancer Research http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/current.shtml are the first to show one role the waves play. They selectively round up activated growth-promoting proteins from the cell surface and take them to the interior of the cell. Under normal conditions, this process would help terminate signals from these growth-promoting proteins. However, in cancer cells it appears that either these waves may not function properly, or that the internalized proteins may remain active longer, which allows them to "instruct" a cell to acquire cancerous traits such as excessive growth and invasive movement that constitute metastasis. These waves are important for helping to keep these cancer-growth commands at bay.

Studying human pancreatic tumor cells, the Mayo researchers found that the waves store up to half the activated Epidermal Growth Factor Receptors (EGFR) from the surface of the cell and take this cache to the interior of the cells. This is important for understanding cancer because aberrant activation of EGFR can promote the excessive growth typical of cancers.

"These findings have broad implications toward the general understanding of how specific processes in the wave may affect such things
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1-Apr-2006


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