Childhood cancer discovery may stop tumor spread before it starts — ScienceDaily

A new discovery in Ewing sarcoma, an aggressive and often deadly childhood cancer, has uncovered the potential to prevent cancer cells from spreading beyond their primary tumor site.

The breakthrough provides new insight into what triggers the process that allows cancer cells to survive as they travel through the body in the bloodstream.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia and BC Cancer have found that Ewing sarcoma cells — and likely other types of cancer cells — can develop a shield that protects them from the harsh environment of the bloodstream and other locations as they search for a new place to settle. to establish or to sow. The study has just been published in Cancer Discovery.

“You might think that a tumor cell could easily survive in the bloodstream, but it’s actually a very harsh environment,” said lead author of the study, Dr. Poul Sorensen, a leading scientist at BC Cancer, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, and director of the newly established Academy of Translational Medicine of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia.

“What we found was that Ewing sarcoma cells can develop an antioxidant response that shields them and allows them to survive as they circulate,” said Dr. sorensen. “This is similar to a person in the Arctic having to put on a thick coat before going outside. If they don’t protect themselves, they are exposed to dangerously harsh conditions under which they may not survive.”

Metastatic disease, which occurs when cancer has spread throughout the body, is the most powerful predictor of poor outcome for cancer patients of all ages and has been a difficult process for researchers to study or for clinicians to target.

“The exciting thing about this study is that if we can target the cells in circulation, we might be able to prevent metastases from occurring. So that’s the really big goal of this research,” said Dr. sorensen.

Not many cells can become metastatic. While research has been done on genetic reasons why a tumor mutates and spreads, these researchers found that Ewing sarcoma cells turn on the expression of a naturally occurring gene on the surface of the cell known as IL1RAP to create a protective protein shield. to create. .

“This study is the first to show that the surface protein, IL1RAP, is rarely expressed in normal tissue but is upregulated in childhood sarcomas,” said Dr. Haifeng Zhang, a UBC postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Sorensen at BC Cancer and lead author of the study. “This is a really good thing because it means we can develop treatments to target IL1RAP without causing toxic side effects in non-cancerous cells.”

drs. Sorensen and Zhang’s colleagues, who are members of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation-Stand Up To Cancer Pediatric Dream Team and the National Cancer Institute Pediatric Immunotherapy Discovery and Development Network (PI-DDN), have developed antibodies that can target IL1RAP .

“These potent antibodies can bind to the outside of the cell, and we show in our study that these reagents can actually kill Ewing sarcoma cells. So not only have we discovered an interesting pathway, but we’re well on the way to a clinical one.” grade immunotherapeutic treatment for Ewing sarcoma,” said Dr. sorensen.

“We are optimistic that we can work towards clinical trials in the next two years,” added Dr. Zhang to it.

Research is underway to investigate whether the same shielding behavior can be found in other types of cancer cells, including acute myeloid leukemia, melanoma, pancreatic adenocarcinoma, central nervous system tumors, and in some types of lung and breast cancers.

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Materials supplied by University of British Columbia. Note: Content is editable for style and length.

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