Cancer in bloodstream treatment may soon be possible as scientists have finally discovered how cancer cells from the initial tumor spread to the bloodstream.
Lead researcher Stefan Offermanns, along with his team of researchers at Goethe University Frankfurt and Max Planck Institute in Germany, said their finding of the mechanism can be a “promising starting point for treatments” in preventing the formation of metastases.
Metastases refer to the progress of secondary malignant growth from the primary site of cancer. Since more cancer deaths are revealed to be caused by these secondary growths as compared to the original tumor, it is critical to catch them.
The Literal Death Receptor
According to the study, the secondary growths “punch” their way into the walls of the blood vessels through a molecule called Death Receptor 6. With this, a self-destruction process happens in the blood vessels which lead to the spread of cancer.
The researchers, then, were able to deduce that it is vital to disable Death Receptor 6 (DR6) to bar the dispersion of cancerous cells. That is if there are no other alternative ways for cancer to enter the bloodstream, though.
DR6 can also trigger necroptosis or what is also known as the “programmed cell death.” This is the process where cancer cells break through the blood vessels by targeting the endothelial cells of our body.
Cancerous cells can then either go in through a gap in the vascular wall or weaken surrounding cells.
In the findings published in Nature, researchers were able to observe in genetically modified mice that disabling DR6 led to lesser necroptosis and metastasis.
Cancer in Bloodstream Treatment In Sight?
Despite the promising findings of the study, scientists still got a long way to go in discovering more about stopping, or even slowing down, the spread of cancer.
What is next is for researchers to figure out the possible side effects of disabling DR6. And of course, they should know whether the outcome would be the same for humans.
Moreover, there are hypotheses of cancer spreading outside our body’s bloodstream and blood vessels. There are also studies that suggest melanoma cancer cling, instead of penetrating, to the blood vessels. If that is so, both chemotherapy and disabling DR6 will be futile.
In U.S. alone, 1.5 million people are diagnosed with cancer every year. If studies, like cancer in bloodstream treatment, are proven to be effective, millions of lives can be saved from the disease that causes one of every four deaths.
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