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A Double Agent Exposed

  December, 13 2007 10:09
your information resource in human molecular genetics

A tumour needs its own network of blood vessels to fuel its growth and so it commandeers factors from its host to help - for example, ones ordinarily active in wound healing. A paper published in Nature shows how one such molecule, known as Bv8, is stimulated by the tumour to mobilize white blood cells from the bone marrow that work alongside Bv8 to help it create its vital blood supply.

Napoleone Ferrara and colleagues have discovered that tumours implanted into immunodeficient mice secrete granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) - a factor normally involved in formation of blood cells - which steps up production of Bv8 in the bone marrow. In turn, Bv8 directs white blood cells of the 'neutrophil' lineage to home in on the tumour.

The team worked out the details of the process with the help of an antibody against Bv8, which binds to the molecule and deactivates it. The same antibody might therefore be useful for thwarting tumour growth, particularly if combined with cell-killing chemotherapy.


Napoleone Ferrara (Genentech Inc, South San Francisco, CA, USA)
E-mail: nf@gene.com

(C) Nature press release.

Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza

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