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An aggressive cancer’s road to conquest

September 27, 2018 This article courtesy of Nature News.

The type of lung cell that spawns a particularly deadly form of cancer helps to determine how it spreads.

The type of cell that gives rise to a tumour can also dictate the tumour’s evolutionary path — and the mechanism by which it spreads through the body, studies in mice suggest.

Small-cell lung cancer is one of the most lethal cancers, and among those most likely to spread, or metastasize. Monte Winslow and Julien Sage at the Stanford University School of Medicine in California and their colleagues studied small-cell lung cancer in two different mouse models of the disease. In one model, genetic changes that lead to cancer occurred only in a subset of lung cells called neuroendocrine cells. In the second model, these genetic changes were present in a variety of lung-cell types.

The team found that the small-cell lung cancers in the two models differed in the genes that they expressed, which might affect how each type of cancer responds to treatment. Neuroendocrine cells also yielded tumours that did not rely on increased activity of a protein called NFIB to spread to distant organs, whereas the other tumours did rely on NFIB for metastasis.

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