Researchers at MD Anderson discover new route for ovarian cancer spread

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Ovarian cancer was found to spread via circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in the bloodstream, homing in on the omentum, a sheet of tissue that covers and supports the abdominal organs. Researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center found that the CTCs rely on human epidermal growth receptor factor 3 (HER3), a receptor protein related to the HER2 protein prominent in some breast cancers, to find their way to omentum. The abundance of the protein makes it a biomarker candidate for targeted therapies. Ovarian cancer was thought to spread through surface contact with other organs; however, this does not explain how the disease metastasizes to more distant organs, such as the liver and spleen. Researchers used a parabiosis mouse model—two mice are joined at the skin from hip to shoulder—to investigate the route of metastasis. When the host mice were injected with ovarian cancer cells, a primary tumor developed and metastases were found in the omenta of all of the host mice. In the guest mice, metastatic cells and tumors appeared first in the omentum before spreading to other organs. The researchers found HER3 was highly elevated and activated HER3, and the more HER3-positive cells the mice had, the greater tumor burdon. Further results showed the NRG1 ligand is more abundant in the omentum that in other tissues, and blocking NRG1 with siRNA in mice with ovarian cancer significantly reduced metastatsis. Clinical trials are underway to explore whether an antibody that blocks HER2 might thwart both proteins in ovarian and breast cancer.

Researchers at MD Anderson discover new route for ovarian cancer spread
Researchers at MD Anderson discover new route for ovarian cancer spread
Circulating tumor cells spread ovarian cancer through the bloodstream, homing in on a sheath of abdominal fatty tissue where it can grow and metastasize to other organs, scientists at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center report in Cancer Cell. "This completely new way of thinking ...
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