Minority of cells drive tumor growth

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New research has provided additional insight into the process by which cancer grows and spreads. Researchers based at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston undertook a study to examine the behavior of subclones—small populations of cell inside tumors—in tumor development and the cancer process. The investigators genetically manipulated breast cancer cells created in the lab to produce a various proteins previously established to be involved in cancer. They then observed cells in which only small cell populations contained these proteins. When the mixtures were transplanted into test mice, some grew and spread. Two molecules, one called IL-11 and one called CCL5, in particular were found to be present in the cases where the cancer spread. A careful analysis of this process allowed investigators to develop mathematical models describing the evolution of cell subclones within tumors.

A better understanding of subclone action in tumors could lead to better, more efficient targeted therapies in the future.

The results of this study were published in the journal Nature.

Minority of cells drive tumor growth
Minority of cells drive tumor growth

US cancer researchers have unearthed further evidence that a tumour's growth can be fuelled by just a small minority of its cells.

The work, carried out in mice, reveals new insights into how the disease develops and spreads, and offers new clues in the search for better treatments.

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