Malignant subclone drives metastasis of genetically and phenotypically heterogenous cell clusters through fibrotic niche generation

Journal: Nature Communications

Published: 2021-02-08

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-21160-0

Affiliations: 6

Authors: 8

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Research Highlight

Cancer cells are stronger together

© Science Photo Library - STEVE GSCHMEISSNER/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

© Science Photo Library - STEVE GSCHMEISSNER/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Metastatic cancer cells — cancer cells capable of spreading within the body — can alter their cellular environment to make the journey more hospitable for otherwise non-spreading cancer cells to come along for the ride.

This finding helps to explain how cancers can seed new tumours in the body that have more than one type of starting cell. It also provides a new therapeutic target for combatting cancer’s spread.

A team led by researchers at Kanazawa University in Japan transplanted two types of colorectal cancer cells together into the spleens of mice: one with the ability to spread to other organs, the other without.

Both cell types spread to the liver because, as the researchers showed, the metastatic cells induced changes in a major blood vessel that facilitated movement of the cells that couldn’t disperse on their own.

Therapies directed at this metastatic cell-generated environment could help limit the dissemination of deadly cancers.

Supported content

  1. Nature Communications 12, 863 (2021). doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-21160-0
Institutions Share
Kanazawa University (KU), Japan 0.63
The University of Tokyo (UTokyo), Japan 0.31
RIKEN Quantitative Biology Center (QBiC), Japan 0.06