A protein used by embryo cells during early development, and recently found in many different types of cancer, apparently serves as a switch regulating the spread of cancer, known as metastasis, report researchers.
|Scooped by Graham Player Ph.D.|
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center have made an important discovery about how cancer is able to spread and metastasize. They have identified a particular protein that appears to function as a switch responsible for regulating the spread of cancer.
The protein, called ROR1 (Receptor-tyrosine-kinase-like Orphan Receptor 1) is normally expressed only during our early embryonic development (embryogenesis) prior to becoming a fetus, after which it is no longer active.
The researchers found that this embryonic protein, ROR1, is also expressed for some unknown reason in many cancers. Being a protein involved in the migration of cells and development of organs in the fetus can give logical reasoning why its presence after birth may encourage further abnormal migratory cell development and tumor growth.
When the researchers turned off the expression of ROR1 in laboratory experiments they found that cancer cells ceased to spread. So the abnormal presence of ROR1 at anytime of life after birth may be an initiator of tumor growth and expansion, by allowing cells to occupy other bodily tissues.
This is an amazing and possibly revolutionary step forward in understanding cancer. The researchers can now set out to developing human clinical studies in patients with cancers that express ROR1.