Posted on Jun 26, 2018, 10 p.m.
Researchers have found 11 genes responsible for the spread of cancer, the previously unknown therapeutic targets may be important to cancer prevention, as inhibiting the gene targets has been found to block more than 99.5% of cancer metastasis in living cells, as published in Nature Communications.
Researchers used the unique platform they created, a shell-less avian embryo, to visualize growth and spread of cancer cells in real time, using molecular knockout library tools to insert short hairpin RNA vectors into cancer cells which bind to specific genes within cells to stop them from activating. Cancer cells were inserted into the embryos to observe formation of cancer clusters, identifying cells that showed properties of being nonmetastatic, which enabled detection and identification of 11 genes that appeared to play key roles in cancer cell metastasis, which are widely involved in the metastasis process that is not unique to any one cancer, according to the researchers who will now be testing metastasis associated genes and products as drug targets with the goal of stopping metastasis.
Once cancer becomes metastatic it continues to seed other areas of the body, progressing the disease contributing to its worsening. Stopping metastasis at any stage of progression will have significant impacts on survival of cancer patients. The team would like to progress to human trials within a few years, and is expanding efforts to explore other types of microRNAs present that may be stronger therapeutic targets to provide direct impacts on improving treatment for cancer patient outcomes.
Materials provided by University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry.
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Konstantin Stoletov, Lian Willetts, Robert J. Paproski, David J. Bond, Srijan Raha, Juan Jovel, Benjamin Adam, Amy E. Robertson, Francis Wong, Emma Woolner, Deborah L. Sosnowski, Tarek A. Bismar, Gane Ka-Shu Wong, Andries Zijlstra, John D. Lewis. Quantitative in vivo whole genome motility screen reveals novel therapeutic targets to block cancer metastasis. Nature Communications, 2018; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-04743-2