Tumors come in many shapes and forms — curable or deadly, solid or liquid, lodged inside the brain, bone, or other tissues. One thing they all have in common, however, is a knack for molecular deceit. It is often by posing as normal cells, or by hijacking them, that cancer cells advance their takeover of biological systems and learn to grow, survive, and spread to new organs.
Recently, Rockefeller scientists found that breast and lung tumors can appropriate a signaling pathway used by neurons to metastasize. In a report published in Nature, the researchers describe how these cancer cells enlist nearby blood vessels to gain access to this nerve signal, ultimately enabling their escape from the primary tumor and into the bloodstream.
In addition to illuminating previously unseen aspects of tumors’ relationship with their surroundings, the findings could lead to new strategies for diagnostics and treatment.
Blood vessels: more