CHEMOKINES - SIGNPOSTS FOR A DEADLY MIGRATION
Chemokines, small molecules that act as messengers between cells, play a critical role in determining how cancer cells migrate around the body during cancer metastasis, according to a paper by researchers at the DNAX Research Institute, Palo Alto, California and colleagues published in this week's Nature (Vol. 410, No. 6824, 01 March 2001).
Tumour cell migration has a lot in common with a process called leukocyte trafficking—the way in which white blood cells migrate from where they originate to the target tissues where they are needed. Because chemokines expressed on target tissues guide leukocytes to them, the researchers looked to see if chemokines guided tumour cells to their targets as well. By looking at the role of chemokines in human breast cancer the DNAX researchers found specific chemokines expressed in the major organs targeted by the disease such as lymph node, bone marrow, lung and liver.
Next, by suppressing chemokine signalling in mice injected with tumour cells, the research team were successful in preventing tumours from metastasising successfully. A lot more work needs to be done on the role of chemokines in cancer—for example whether they have an inhibitory effect before metastasis has occurred — writes Lance Liotta of the National Cancer Institute, in Bethesda, Maryland, in an accompanying News & Views article. But if they do, he writes, chemokine receptors "might qualify as targets for ‘chemoprevention’ — a means of blocking the conversion of premalignant to invasive cancer".
Ronald Asinari (Corporate Communications, Schering-Plough/DNAX)
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Bill O’Donnell (Corporate Communications, Schering-Plough/DNAX)
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(C) Nature press release.
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