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Protein Can Stop Tumor Cells from Spreading

Researchers identified a specialised Protein that appears to help prevent tumour cells from entering the bloodstream and spreading to other parts of the body.The findings were published in Science Advances.This study helps to shed light on a little-understood part of metastasis called intravasation when cancer cells that have separated from a primary tumour enter the circulation to travel to other parts of the body and establish colonies.

Kaustav Bera, a Johns Hopkins University PhD candidate in chemical and biomolecular engineering and a lead author of the study, which was done with colleagues at the University of Alberta and Universitat Pompeu Fabra said that the researchers have discovered that this Protein, TRPM7, senses the pressure of fluid flowing in the circulation and stops the cells from spreading through the vascular system.

Researchers also added that they found that metastatic tumour cells have markedly reduced levels of this sensor Protein. That is why they efficiently enter into the circulation rather than turning away from fluid flow. The researchers further showed that artificially increasing the expression of TRPM7 in tumour cells may help stop intravasation and ultimately metastasis in its tracks.TRPM7 is known to regulate calcium in cells, but this new insight into its role in cell migration is exciting. Typically, the cells in the human body Tor example, muscle cells, fat cells, and epithelial cells–stay contained in their respective regions. The major exception is blood cells, which patrol the body fighting pathogens. Then there are cancer cells, which have mutations that allow them to travel and spread.

It is at this point of spreading that cancer becomes much more dangerous. Christopher Yankaskas, a lead author and former member of Konstantopoulos’s lab who is now a scientist at Thermo Fisher Scientific said that many people will be diagnosed with a primary tumor, but as long as this tumor is contained, a surgical procedure can save the person.

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