13 Dec 2018

Tumour cells conquer territory from their neighbours using a newly discovered mechanism

How do tumoural cells replace healthy cells to promote tumour progression? Scientists from the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown and from the Institut Pasteur (Paris, France), identified a mechanism that responds to cell deformation and can be exploited by tumoral cells to squeeze out and kill their neighbours. This mechanism may promote the early expansion of tumours.

Tumour cells conquer territory from their neighbours using a newly discovered mechanism

Despite decades of cancer research, the early phases of tumour progression that connect the appearance of few abnormal cells to the formation of a clinically detectable tumour mass remains poorly understood. It was previously proposed that certain mutations could give a competitive advantage to a subset of cells that would enable them to kill and replace their neighbours, thereby initiating a cancerous tumour. Yet, the mechanisms at the basis of such competition were not clear. Researchers from the Institut Pasteur and the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, have just discovered a new mechanism that may explain how tumoural cells can eliminate their neighbours and spread throughout the body.

In a study published two years ago, Eduardo Moreno from the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown and Romain Levayer from the Institut Pasteur, identified a form of competition between cells that was not previously known, which they named mechanical competition…

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Image credit: Eduardo Moreno & Romain Levayer.