In the first study of its kind, Rice University researchers have mapped how information flows through the genetic circuits that cause cancer cells to become metastatic. The research reveals a common pattern in the decision-making that allows cancer cells to both migrate and form new tumors. Researchers say the commonality may open the door to new drugs that interfere with the genetic switches that cancer must flip to form both cancer stem cells and circulating tumor cells – two of the main players in cancer metastasis.
This is an artist’s depiction of the dangers of metastasis, the process by which cancer cells migrate and establish tumors throughout the body. A new Rice University-led study has revealed a common pattern in the decision-making circuitry that cancer cells use to initiate both migration and new tumor formation.
CREDIT: thinkstockphotos.com/Rice University
Levine is the Karl F. Hasselmann Professor in Bioengineering at Rice. Ben-Jacob is the Maguy-Glass Chair in Physics of Complex Systems and professor of physics and astronomy at Tel Aviv University. Sendurai co-directs both the Metastasis Research Center and the Center for Stem Cells and Developmental Biology at MD Anderson Cancer Center.
The research was supported by the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, the National Science Foundation and the Tauber Family Funds.