'Pop Out' Cells Could Aid Fight Against Cancer Spread

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According to a study published in Nature, Cancer Research UK scientists are developing a deeper understanding of how cells move around the body, which could aid future cancer treatments.

Dr Kat Arney, Cancer Research UK’s science information manager, tells the Huffington Post that a team at UCL have found cells literally ‘pop out’ of a tissue when they get overcrowded.

“Most deaths from cancer are caused by the disease spreading around the body, so there’s a lot of research to understand what triggers cancer cells to go on the move and how we might be able to stop them.

“We hope these results will open up new avenues for scientists working to understand how cancer spreads and how to stop it.”

Although the work is in its early stage, experts hope similar processes may be at work in human cancers.

“By studying tiny fruit flies, Dr Baum and his team have found that cells literally ‘pop out’ of a tissue when there’s too many of them, which may be similar to the overcrowding cells experience in tumours as they grow,” says Dr Arney.

While healthy cells automatically die when ‘kicked out’, the scientists think that cancer cells find ways to survive and resettle in a different part of the body to form new tumours.

“The next stage of this research is to find out what happens when we block the ability of healthy cells to die once they have been ‘squeezed out’ of overcrowded tissues,” says Dr Buzz Baum, Cancer Research UK scientist at UCL.

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