Innovative method to starve tumors

Feb 11, 2009

The development of cancerous tumours is highly dependent on the nutrients the tumours receive through the blood. The team of Dr. Janusz Rak, of the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) at the Montreal Children's Hospital, including Dr. Khalid Al-Nedawi and Brian Meehan, has just discovered a new mechanism that tumours use to stimulate the growth of the blood vessels that feed them.

The researchers have also proposed a new way to control this process, which may translate into future therapies. These findings were published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

An innovative method…

According to the researchers, tumour cells can release "bubbles" called microvesicles, which allow the tumours to communicate with the endothelial cells of blood vessels and stimulate changes in their behaviour. The microvesicles are armed with specific cancer proteins as they leave the tumour. When they are taken up by endothelial cells, the specific cancer proteins that they carry can trigger mechanisms that promote the abnormal formation of new blood vessels. The vessels then grow towards the tumour and supply it with the nutrients it requires to grow.

"We had already demonstrated the existence of these vesicles as well as their importance in the communication process between cancer cells and their environment. But this new discovery is much more targeted and represents a new direction in terms of therapy," said a delighted Dr. Rak.

… to starve tumors

In fact, a family of molecules derived from annexin V seems to effectively fight this process and ultimately may help "starve" the tumour. "The molecule we used is effective both in vitro and in vivo. It prevents the formation of new blood vessels in mice with cancer and therefore strongly inhibits tumour growth," explained Dr. Rak.

Called Diannexin, this molecule acts to block the in vitro fusion of vesicles and endothelial cells. In mice with cancer, Diannexin works to slow blood vessel growth towards the tumour, resulting in anti-cancer effects. This finding is particularly important considering the treatment was applied in isolation without additional chemotherapy. If combined with other agents, this new way of treating cancer may be even more potent.

Diannexin is currently being developed as an antithrombotic medication. It would therefore be possible to use it safely for different types of pathologies.

Source: McGill University Health Centre

Explore further: New breast cancer test links immune 'hotspots' to better survival

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Virtual-twin plan could support surgery for soldiers

Feb 16, 2015

A Saturday story in the MIRROR.CO.UK, the online edition of the Daily Mirror, carried a headline that made readers look once, twice, three times: "'Virtual twins' could save lives as doctors prepare to te ...

New nanogel for drug delivery

Feb 19, 2015

Scientists are interested in using gels to deliver drugs because they can be molded into specific shapes and designed to release their payload over a specified time period. However, current versions aren't ...

3-D printers to make human body parts? It's happening

Feb 04, 2015

It sounds like something from a science fiction plot: So-called three-dimensional printers are being used to fashion prosthetic arms and hands, jaw bones, spinal-cord implants - and one day perhaps even living human body ...

Team enlarges brain samples, making them easier to image

Jan 15, 2015

Beginning with the invention of the first microscope in the late 1500s, scientists have been trying to peer into preserved cells and tissues with ever-greater magnification. The latest generation of so-called ...

Recommended for you

Deodorant use ok for radiotherapy patients

17 hours ago

Women undergoing radiotherapy for breast cancer can use deodorant without fear of increased underarm skin reaction, pain, itching or burning, research suggests.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

E_L_Earnhardt
not rated yet Feb 11, 2009
I suspect the "bubbles" contribute to the COOLING of the cells. CELLS DON'T EAT! They have no digestive system! What they receive by circulation is chiefly ENERGY! I suspect the use of inert gas in your bubbles would work even better!! Please try it!

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.