New York: For your knowledge, our cells can change into an invasive, liquid-like state to readily navigate the narrow channels in our body.
This transformation is triggered by chemical signals that, if blocked, can stop cancer cells from spreading.
This fresh insight into how cells move through the body could lead to innovative techniques to stop cancer cells from spreading and causing secondary tumours, researchers from University of California, Los Angeles, have claimed.
Most cancer deaths are not owing to primary tumours but to secondary tumours in vital organs caused by cells moving from the original tumour to other places in the body.
Researchers used embryonic cells to investigate how groups of cells move in a developmental process similar to that used by cancer to spread around the body.
The team report a molecule called lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) changes cells from a solid-like to a liquid-like state, allowing cells to flow between normal tissues in the body.
Scientists were able to switch off the signals from LPA, stopping the cells from moving down narrow, blood vessel-like channels.
"We have found a way to stop the movement of embryonic cells by blocking LPA signals. This suggests a promising alternative in which cancer treatments might work in the future," said professor Roberto Mayor from UCL's cell and developmental biology.
The research was published in the Journal of Cell Biology.