How to prevent cancer cells from becoming active

Could we put cancer cells to sleep forever? Here’s a possibility that would allow us to sleep soundly with both ears. And according to a recent study, it could be possible! Researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York (United States) followed cancer cells closely to understand the mechanism by which they remained “asleep” or woke up to cause cancer. A new tumor. Finding out that it would be enough to make sure their bed stays cozy so they don’t wake up!

Traveling cells that can wake up at any time.

In cancer, some tumor cells can travel to other organs, making remission difficult after treatment. Because even if the original tumor is completely removed, these traveling cells can be awakened at any time elsewhere via the blood or lymphatic circulation, causing relapses and metastases (tumors that occur far from the primary tumor, testifying to uncontrolled spread. Of cancer). These dormant cells can become activated years after the remission of the original cancer, making it very difficult to predict a true prognosis for a patient after treatment.

Using a microscopy technique that can trace cells in real time within a living being (intravital two-photon microscopy), researchers have shown in mice that inactive cancer cells produce type 3 collagen (structural proteins of the extracellular matrix). As long as this “bed” around these cells remains well supplied with collagen, they do not wake up. But when it is depleted, a signaling pathway is activated that causes the tumor cell to “wake up.”

Making “their bed” keeps them from waking up!

After this discovery, the researchers wondered if it was possible to influence the behavior of these cells by modifying the amount of type 3 collagen that surrounds them. Answer: yes, it was enough to add more collagen around these cells so that they did not wake up!

“We see that we could prevent the recurrence of certain tumors,” encouraged the author of the new publication published in Nature Cancer, José Javier Bravo-Cordero, in a LiveScience article. “We may consider clinical interventions in the future to prevent the awakening of these dormant cells in order to reduce the risk of metastasis,” he added in the journal Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News. Results that must first be validated in humans, but that open a potential path towards an effective treatment against cancer relapses.

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