Study Reveals How Cancer Cells Migrate To The Brain

Most drugs intended to combat metastasis are ineffective against cancer that has spread to the brain, thus limiting the options. Therefore, understanding how cancer cells flourish or fail in the brain niche may help us develop new treatments.

Sofia Merajver, M.D., Ph.D., the Greater Good Breast Cancer Research Professor at the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center, and her colleagues employed two microfluidic chips to monitor cancer cell migration to the brain and examined them for comprehending the molecular mechanisms that affect cancer cells passage through the blood-brain barrier. 

The study was published in the journal Advanced NanoBiomed Research, which shows that using breast cancer cell lines, the researchers found that Dkk-1, a cytokine released by the astrocytes, activates the cancer cells to migrate. Dkk-1 is also involved in Wnt signaling, a key signaling pathway for cancer progression.

THE CORRESPONDING AUTHOR, Christopher R. Oliver, Ph.D., said, "The interaction between cancer and brain cells permits their entry into the blood-brain barrier. Hence, lowering Dkk-1 levels near tumor cells, might prevent this Crosstalk and ultimately brain metastases."


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