London: An international team has discovered a new way to potentially "fence in" a tumour and help stop cancer cells spreading, according to a study released on Thursday by Cancer Research UK.
Tumours cause cells, called fibroblasts, to stiffen the surrounding tissue so that cancer cells can grip it, which allows them to tunnel through to the blood stream and spread around the body, the study shows.
Researchers from the Francis Crick Institute and the University of Copenhagen said by using experimental drugs they were able to stop the fibroblasts from stiffening the tissue around tumours, Xinhua news agency reported.
Thus the healthy tissue trapped the cancer cells, blocking their movement away from the tumour.
They tested the new approach on mice, and the results showed that targeting fibroblasts reduced the movement of cancer cells from the tumour to the lungs and liver through the blood stream.
Since most deaths from cancer are caused when cancer cells travel to new sites in the body and grow as secondary tumours, the new method may lead to better ways to control the disease and save more lives, according to the researchers.
"This could be an exciting new way to harness the potential of the healthy tissue surrounding cancers to contain and restrain aggressive tumours, stopping cancer cells from breaking away and moving to new places in the body," said Erik Sahai from the Francis Crick Institute. He is the co-lead author of the study.