Study supports century-old cancer theory

December 12, 2005

A Yale study challenges oncology researchers to consider tumor cell hybridization with white blood cells as a major reason cancer metastasizes.

"Cancer cells exhibit a remarkable number of traits normally attributed to white blood cells known as macrophages, including the ability to migrate to lymph nodes and distant organs and to form a new blood supply," said lead author John Pawelek in Yale's school of medicine. "Our data indicate they do this by hybridizing with macrophages."

Pawelek said the idea of white blood cells hybridizing with tumor cells is not new. During the early 1900's the German pathologist Otto Aichel proposed metastasis is caused by cancer cells fusing with macrophages.

"There is now evidence to support all aspects of his proposition," said Pawelek. "Macrophages are among the most motile cells we have. By co-opting the macrophage's ability to move, the hybrid is very different from the original cancer cell. It is able to migrate away from the primary site of tumor formation and take up residence in other areas of the body while it continues to divide."

The study appears in the December issue of Lancet Oncology.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Immune system B cells play a role in tackling liver cancer and provide a marker for patient prognosis

Related Stories

DNA chip offers big possibilities in cell studies

August 25, 2016

A UT Dallas physicist has developed a novel technology that not only sheds light on basic cell biology, but also could aid in the development of more effective cancer treatments or early diagnosis of disease.

Recommended for you

Rosetta captures comet outburst

August 25, 2016

In unprecedented observations made earlier this year, Rosetta unexpectedly captured a dramatic comet outburst that may have been triggered by a landslide.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.