Breast cancer cells spread in an already-armed mob

cluster of tumor cells

New research has revealed that cancer cells travel in mob-like patterns. This is a beneficial discovery because it is known that it is the spread of tumor cells that causes death. Often times, when cancer recurs it is stronger and more deadly than before. It is in part due to the clusters that break off in this way.

Breast cancer cells may break away from the main tumor in clumps, already bearing most of the mutations that will drive cancer recurrence, a study suggests. Shown here is a cluster of circulating tumor cells (red) from a patient with breast cancer.


COLD SPRING HARBOR, N.Y. — When breast cancer spreads, it moves in gangs of ready-to-rumble tumor cells, a small genetic study suggests. Most of the mutations that drive recurrent tumors when they pop up elsewhere in the body were present in the original tumor, geneticist Elaine Mardis reported May 9 at the Biology of Genomes meeting.

For many types of cancer, it is the spread, or metastasis, of tumor cells that kill people. Because cancer that comes back and spreads after initial treatment is often deadlier than the original tumors,…

New Therapy Shrinks Five Types of Pediatric Cancers in Mice

Cancerous pediatric brain tumors are some of the most aggressive cancers to affect children, and are frequently fatal. They’re difficult to treat due to their proximity to sensitive brain tissue in tiny brains, and children’s bodies can rarely tolerate the side effects of the levels of chemotherapy and radiation necessary to shrink tumors.

But recently, researchers at Stanford Medicine, the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, and several other institutions successfully tested a promising immunotherapy treatment that shrank multiple tumor types in mouse models. Immunotherapy treatments harness the body’s own immune system to fight the cancer, and usually come with few to no side effects compared to chemotherapy drugs and radiation.

The collaborative study, published in Science Translational Medicine, showed results on the five most common types of pediatric tumors: Group 3 medulloblastomas (MB), atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumors (ATRT), primitive neuroectodermal tumors (PNET), pediatric glioblastoma (PG), and diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG).

The Stanford researchers designed their study after the recent discovery of a molecule known as CD47, a protein expressed on the surface of all cells. CD47 sends a “don’t eat me” signal to the immune system’s macrophages—white blood cells whose job it is to destroy abnormal cells. “Think of the macrophages as the Pac-Man of the immune system,” Samuel Cheshier, lead study author and assistant professor of neurosurgery at Stanford Medicine, tells mental_floss.

Cancer cells have adapted to express high amounts of CD47, essentially fooling the immune system into not destroying their cells, which allows tumors to flourish. Cheshier and his team theorized that if they could block the CD47 signals on cancer cells, the macrophages would identify the cells on the cancerous tumors and eat them—without any toxicity to healthy cells. To do so, they used an antibody known as anti-CD47, which, as its name implies, blocks CD47 on the cancer from binding to a receptor on the macrophage called SIRP-alpha.

“It is this binding that tells the macrophage, ‘Don’t eat the tumor,’” he says. The anti-CD47 fits perfectly into the binding pocket where CD47 and SIRP-alpha interact, “like a jigsaw puzzle,” helping the macrophage correctly identify the tumor as something to be removed. “Anti-CD47 is the big power pill in Pac-Man that makes him able to eat the ghosts,” says Cheshier.

Even better, not only does…

They Told Me It’s Just Imflammation, So I Changed My Doctor And It Turned Out To Be Cancer

When I first heard the diagnosis, my life completely changed. I’ve had problems with health and especially urinating for about 2 years and my first doctor did not want to belive that my problems are worse than imflammation. When my problems worsened, I changed my doctor. I was immediately sent to CT and the results were disturbing – 3 cm tumor in my bladder. In less than a week, I found myself sitting in the hospital hall, waiting for my admission for surgery to remove the tumor, called TURT. This is my struggle throughout the hardest time of my life.

Getting my medical report while waiting in the hospital hallway

After being listed in my room, I suffered massive depression. I felt nothing but fear for this was my first time in hospital and my first surgery ever

Next morning I was awakened by nurse. The time of my surgery has come

Me after surgery. I’ve been drugged and confused; with urinary catether between my legs. The night that followed I suffered extreme pain with massive bleeding, so I was sent straight to ICU to fix the problems. I don’t remember anything, because I was under sedatives

A woke up…