When isolated to a single organ, cancer is often treatable. The problem comes when a cancer spreads, making removing it far more difficult. Now, scientists have discovered a molecule that might be able to encourage cnacer to remain in just the tissue it originally affects.
The molecule is called "flightless", and named after the effect it has on fruit flies. It can increase the stickiness of cells, including cancerous ones and make them attach more readily to underlying tissue. It encourages cancer cells to stick where they are and not go anywhere else through the body. Christopher McCulloch, one of the researchers, explains:
"The study of flightless and its role in the control of cell movement offers the promise of developing new drugs and treatments to control diseases in which cell movement has gotten out of control. We hope that one day treatments to regulate cell movement could be used to bring under better control the spread of cancer cells from a tumor into the rest of the body."
Published in the FASEB Journal, it studied three different cell types which were modified to produce differing amounts of the flightless molecule. The ones that produced the most moved away from the tissue they were connected much more slowly than those that produced less.
This could very well allow cancer patients a fighting chance to stop the spread of the disease in their body, which could in turn increase survival rates.[The FASEB Journal via EurekAlert]