Updated 3 months, 4 weeks ago

Scientists step closer to halting spread of lung cancer

Researchers from the Universities of York and Texas have discovered that the Golgi apparatus, commonly referred as the "Cellular Post Office" plays an important role in spreading cancer from lungs to other parts of the body.

The 'post office' of the cell, or the Golgi apparatus as it is more commonly known, has the ability to package proteins in order to transport them to other parts of the cell or to deliver them to areas outside of the cell.

Researchers identified that a protein, called PAQR11, inside the 'cellular post office', receives a signal from another protein, called Zeb1; the communication between the two proteins prompts the transport of membrane sacks inside the Golgi.

The findings could point towards new therapeutics, targeted at a particular communication mechanism in the cell. This communication triggers a change in the scaffolding of the cell perimeter - altering from a fixed shape, attached to an organ, to a less stable one, moving freely around the body.

Daniel Ungar, from Department of Biology at University of York's said that the cancer cells are like tents that stay in shape with the help of the support from their sides as well as the ground. As long as the contact points are intact they cannot be moved.

To be able to relocate the tent the support points need to be altered or collapsed. Likewise, the structure of the cancer cells are disturbed by the communication mechanism occurring inside the cell that results in metastasis, noted Ungar.

When the internal structure of the cancer cell collapses their anchoring with the nearby cells is loosened. The cells in turn move from lungs to other parts or organs of the body and spread cancer.

Ungar added that the discovery of two proteins involved in the communication mechanism that results in the spread of cancer sheds light on new treatment options. A drug that targets the communication process would likely contain the movement of Golgi bodies and prevent cancer from spreading to other regions.

"The next stage of this study will be to look at how we target this process without interrupting normal cellular functions of non-cancerous cells," noted Ungar in a press release.

The research, funded by the National Institutes of Health, the American Cancer Society, and the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas, is published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

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