Washington D.C.: A new research has shown how cancer cell collaborators pave the way for cancer cells to metastasize.
At ASCB 2015, Vanderbilt researchers show how metastasizing tumors use non-cancerous fibroblasts to make a migration highway through surrounding extracellular matrix.
To get moving, metastasizing cancer needs to enlist non-cancerous collaborators. Suspicions about where these secret cancer allies might be lurking have long been directed at the fibroblasts, the cells that secrete and organize the extracellular matrix (ECM), the ground on which surrounding cells can get a grip.
Increasing evidence suggests that fibroblasts near growing tumors are actively assisting cancer cells in spreading locally and metastasizing elsewhere. But exactly how these cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) provide aid to the cancer enemy was not known until a recent discovery by Begum Erdogan and colleagues - CAFs clear a highway through the ECM for migrating cancer cells.
These results solve a longstanding puzzle about cancer metastasis and point to the matrix as a possible target for drugs to stop cancer in its tracks.