Scientists say they’re researching a way to destroy cancer cells that travel to other parts of the body.
Many cancers become especially dangerous only when they spread (metastasize) from the initial location to other tissues such as the lungs, brain or bone, the University of Colorado Cancer Center researchers explained.
The investigators found that when a crucial part of cellular recycling is turned off in metastatic cancer cells, they can’t survive the stresses of traveling through the body.
“Highly metastatic cells leave their happy home and have all these stresses on them. One way that the cell is able to deal with stresses is through disposing of cellular wastes or damaged cell components and recycling them,” study co-author Michael Morgan said in a university news release.
“When we turn off the activity of cellular structures called lysosomes, which a cell uses to do this recycling, the metastatic cells become unable to survive these stresses,” Morgan explained.
Morgan was an assistant research professor at CU Cancer Center during the study. He is now assistant professor of biology at Northeastern State University in Oklahoma.
The study was published online Aug. 20 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on metastatic cancer.
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