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Scientists identify molecules that help propel cancer metastasis

Researchers have identified a novel mechanism that can fight cancer spread by controlling the traffic of cells and fluid from tissues to lymphatic vessels.

world Updated: Apr 09, 2011 13:52 IST

Researchers have identified a novel mechanism that can fight cancer spread by controlling the traffic of cells and fluid from tissues to lymphatic vessels.

Harnessing this mechanism may help improve the effectiveness of vaccines.

The lymphatic system is an extensive fluid transit system, consisting of vessels in the body. It defends the body against infection. Cancer cells and infection-fighting cells that are part of the immune system use the lymphatic system to get to other organs, including the lymph nodes.

When cancer cells travel along the lymphatic system from one part of the body to another, they can cause metastases – spread to other organs.

Saint Louis University scientists have found that molecules known as CRSBP-1, which are a group of growth factors and cytokines, bind to CRSBP-1 receptors, which are located on the surface of lymphatic vessels. This stimulates a response, and acts like a token for cancer cells to gain entry to the lymphatic vessel network. This mechanism for getting into the lymphatic system is used by many cancer cells.

"When the token binds to CRSBP-1, it opens the gate," said Wei-Hsien Hou, lead author of the paper. "Our study is the first to identify a function for this protein. It''s important because it gives us a new target to block metastasis, treat edema (swelling of the body from fluid build-up) and enhance the effectiveness of vaccines by strengthening the body''s immune responses."

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