One of the most critical breakthroughs needed to slow the number of patients dying from aggressive cancers, including lung cancer and mesothelioma, is to find an effective way to stop the cancer cells from dividing and migrating to other organs. Once cancer metastasizes, the battle to save the patient is significantly more challenging. Now, researchers from England and the U.S. have joined forces to find a way to stop this cancer growth, and they report that it is the “cellular post office” that should be targeted.
Researchers at the University of York and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center came together to find a way to halt the growth of lung cancer by looking at a key line of communication among cancer cells. The “cellular post office,” or the Golgi apparatus, gathers proteins into a ‘package’ (vesicles) and transports them to areas outside of the cells, thus allowing cancer to metastasize and grow.
The researchers identified two proteins, PAQR111 and Zeb1, that communicate allowing the cancer cells to break free from the lungs and travel throughout the body. The communication takes place in the Golgi, according to a Nov. 24 press release from the University of York.
“Now that we recognise this system, there is the potential to develop a drug that interferes with this communication and prevents the Golgi apparatus from facilitating the movement of the membrane sacks,” said Dr. Daniel Ungar, from the University of York’s Department of Biology, in a Nov. 24 press release from the University of York.
Pleural mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lungs caused by past asbestos exposure, is one cancer that is highly aggressive and spreads quickly to other sites. Survival is typically one year after diagnosis. Research shows that metastasis is the cause of nearly 90 percent of cancer deaths, making it critically important that researchers fully understand how to stop metastasis to increase survival in mesothelioma patients.
See the Nov. 21 issue of The Journal of Clinical Investigation for the full study.