Can we prevent the spread of cancer in the body in the future?
One of the biggest challenges in fighting cancer is stopping metastasis to prevent the tumor cells from spreading throughout the body. Researchers have now found a promising new way to block this growth.
The latest study by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) has revealed how cancer metastases can be stopped. The results of the study were published in the English-language journal "Developmental Cell".
Barrier prevents cancer through metastases
The researchers from Switzerland have identified a kind of barrier that prevents cancer from spreading. It consists of a protein called activin B and the ALK7 receptor. This combination appears to play a crucial role in the defense against tumors. The results of earlier research show that activin B and ALK7 form a signal route that naturally kills cancer cells (apoptosis) and thus prevents the formation (tumor formation) and spread of tumors.
Great results achieved in mice
For the most part, the experiments have so far only been performed on mice. However, there are many biological and chemical similarities between humans and mice, especially when it comes to cancer development, the study authors explain. Therefore, this barrier could be a promising target for anti-cancer drugs in the future. For the cancer barrier to work, the ALK7 receptor and the activin B protein that it activates must work together. The researchers discovered that cancer can suppress ALK7 and Activin B to help the disease survive.
What are activins?
The protein complexes called activins, in which Activin B is involved, play a crucial role in many different parts of the body. They are involved in the growth and spread of cells, our metabolism, the immune response of the body and the regulation of the menstrual cycle.
ALK7 protects against relapse
The team studied both neuroendocrine pancreatic tumors and breast cancer in mouse models. They also looked at human patients with different cancers and found a link between the presence of ALK7 and a lower risk of recurrence. Metastasis also seemed to be contained for longer periods when the ALK7 levels were higher, especially in breast cancer. This supports the idea that ALK7 and Activin B could be useful metastasis prevention agents. However, further research is needed before this discovery can form the basis for the actual treatment.
The more cancer control options available, the better: researchers continue to make good progress in describing different treatment methods, from detecting DNA damage to preventing the formation of abnormal clumps of cells. The authors of the study state that ALK7 has not been sufficiently considered and investigated in the past. Now it can be attributed to the arsenal of possible treatments for cancer. Understanding how cancer cells can overcome various natural safeguards is an important step in understanding tumor biology and the pathogenesis of disease, the study authors explain. (As)