Researchers succeed in containing metastases

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From: Bjarne Kommnick


Researchers have made a breakthrough in cancer research. A discovery that should help suppress metastases. But how exactly?

Heidelberg – Researchers from the German Cancer Research Center and the Medical Faculty Mannheim have made a breakthrough in cancer research, such as the Focus reported. This should increase the patient’s chance of long-term survival. The focus is therefore on metastases in cancer. Scientists have discovered a property that can help fight the disease. Only recently have researchers made a decisive breakthrough in cancer research.

Institution Cancer Research Center
Employee 3000
foundation 1964
Location Heidelberg

Metastases reduce chances of survival – messenger substances influence the process

When cancer metastasizes, the patient’s chances of survival tend to decrease. Although they could already be included to prolong the lives of those affected, cure is then only possible in very few cases. Especially when a tumor was removed, metastases would develop.

When cancer metastasizes, hope for survival dwindles. © Ilya Pitalev/image

Until now, it was assumed that the immune system and messenger substances would play a special role. The scientists have now investigated one of these messenger substances in more detail: angiopoietin-like 4 (ANGPLT4). “We became aware of this messenger substance years ago because there were many studies with different results,” explains Hellmut Augustin, one of the lead authors of the study Focus.

“Want to know how the properties can be explained”: Researchers achieve breakthrough in cancer research

As a result, cancer-promoting properties were discovered in the substance, and it was also shown that the substance would inhibit the growth of metastases. “We simply wanted to know how these different characteristics can be explained,” says Augustin. It was already known that the messenger substance formed the primary tumor of the cells and thus promoted the growth of cancer.

What are metastases in cancer?

Metastases mean that the cancer is more advanced. Cancer cells have detached from the original tumor and formed offshoots. Specialists distinguish between lymph node metastases in the tumor region and distant metastases in other organs.

See also  the symptoms to look out for

Metastases form most often in the liver, lungs, bones and brain – depending on the type of cancer. At first they often cause no symptoms and therefore go unnoticed. In many cases, the cancer can no longer be cured, but its progress can be slowed down and the symptoms can be alleviated. Cancer patients often have very good years ahead of them. (Source: University Hospital Zurich)

In addition, the messenger substance comes in cleaved versions, an n-fragment and a c-fragment. “Although we do not know exactly where the cleavage takes place, we discovered that the properties that promote tumor growth are in the c-fragment and the antitumor properties in the n-fragment,” says the researcher.

Discovery by cancer researchers describes link between messenger substance and metastasis

“In a further step, we then followed the fragments in the blood circulation of mice and tumor patients and saw that the c-fragment is mainly found in the primary tumor, while the n-fragment occurs almost exclusively in the blood circulation.” Augustin describes. However, how hot the c-fragment is in the circulation cannot be said.

The researchers were now able to further confirm that messenger substances play a special role in the development of metastases. Especially in patients with malignant melanoma, the scientists noticed that when the concentration of the n-fragment in the blood decreased, the patient’s probability of survival decreased.

Cancer research: treatment with n-fragment can contain metastases

Augustin explains: “There is therefore quite strong clinical evidence that this n-fragment is protective and keeps metastases in check.” In mice with cancer treated with the n-fragment, the researchers could see that fewer metastases formed and they survived longer than untreated generations.

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The discovery gives hope that the disease can be better understood and the survival prognosis of those affected can be improved and metastases can be combated. However, metastases cannot be completely prevented in the near future: “We have discovered a very important mechanism and a very powerful substance, I am convinced”, but “that we can use it to prevent metastasis formation in the near future , that can be done, not yet deduced from it.”



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