Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Tumor-Activated Protein Promotes Cancer Spread

Published: Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Last Updated: Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Researchers report that cancers physically alter cells in the lymphatic system to promote the spread of disease.

The findings are published in this week's online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Roughly 90 percent of all cancer deaths are due to metastasis — the disease spreading from the original tumor site to multiple, distant tissues and finally overwhelming the patient's body. Lymph vessels are often the path of transmission, with circulating tumor cells lodging in the lymph nodes — organs distributed throughout the body that act as immune system garrisons and traps for pathogens and foreign particles.

The researchers, led by principal investigator Judith A. Varner, professor of medicine at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center, found that a protein growth factor expressed by tumors called VEGF-C activates a receptor called integrin α4β1 on lymphatic vessels in lymph node tissues, making them more attractive and sticky to metastatic tumor cells.

"One of the most significant features of this work is that it highlights the way that tumors can have long-range effects on other parts of the body, which can then impact tumor metastasis or growth," said Varner.

Varner said α4β1 could prove to be a valuable biomarker for measuring cancer risk, since increased levels of the activated protein in lymph tissues is an indirect indicator that an undetected tumor may be nearby.

She said whole-body imaging scans of the lymphatic network might identify problem areas relatively quickly and effectively. "The idea is that a radiolabeled or otherwise labeled anti-integrin α4β1 antibody could be injected into the lymphatic circulation, and it would only bind to and highlight the lymphatic vessels that have been activated by the presence of a tumor."

Varner noted that α4β1 levels correlate with metastasis — the higher the level, the greater the chance of the cancer spreading. With additional research and clinical studies, doctors could refine treatment protocols so that patients at higher risk are treated appropriately, but patients at lower or no risk of metastasis are not over-treated.

The researchers noted in their studies that it is possible to suppress tumor metastasis by reducing growth factor levels or by blocking activation of the α4β1 receptor. Varner said an antibody to VEGF-R3 is currently in Phase 1 clinical trials. An approved humanized anti-α4β1 antibody is currently approved for the treatment of multiple sclerosis and Crohn's disease. Varner said her lab at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center is investigating the possibility of developing one for treating cancer.

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Opening the Door to Safer, More Precise Cancer Therapies
New method regulates when, and how strongly, cancer-killing therapeutic T cells are activated.
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Virus In Cattle Linked To Human Breast Cancer
A new study by UC Berkeley researchers establishes for the first time a link between infection with the bovine leukemia virus and human breast cancer.
Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Scientists Create CRISPR/Cas9 Knock-In Mutations in Human T Cells
In a project spearheaded by investigators at UC San Francisco, scientists have devised a new strategy to precisely modify human T cells using the genome-editing system known as CRISPR/Cas9.
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Engineers Crack DNA Code of Autoimmune Disorders
Researchers have identified an unexpectedly general set of rules that determine which molecules can cause the immune system to become vulnerable to the autoimmune disorders lupus and psoriasis.
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Using microRNA Fit to a T (Cell)
Researchers show B cells can deliver potentially therapeutic bits of modified RNA.
Friday, November 29, 2013
Autoimmune Disease Strategy Emerges from Immune Cell Discovery
UCSF experiments halt pancreas destruction in mouse model of diabetes.
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Tuberculosis and Parkinson’s Disease Linked by Unique Protein
UCSF researchers seek way to boost protein to fight both diseases.
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Therapy Could Treat Breast Cancer that's Spread to Brain
Researchers have successfully combined cellular therapy and gene therapy in a mouse-model system to develop a viable treatment strategy for breast cancer that has spread to a patient's brain.
Tuesday, August 06, 2013
Immune System Molecule Promotes Tumor Resistance
A team of scientists has shown for the first time that a signaling protein involved in inflammation also promotes tumor resistance to anti-angiogenic therapy.
Tuesday, August 06, 2013
Intestinal Bacteria May Fuel Inflammation and Worsen HIV Disease
Changes in intestinal bacteria may help explain why successfully treated HIV patients still experience life-shortening chronic diseases.
Friday, July 12, 2013
Prenatal Maternal Antibodies Affect Child Development
Prenatal exposure to specific combinations of antibodies found only in mothers of children with autism leads to changes in the brain that adversely affect behavior and development.
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Absence of Gene Leads to Earlier, More Severe Case of Multiple Sclerosis
UCSF finding in animal study may lead to biomarker that predicts course of disease in humans.
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Developmental Protein Plays Role in Spread of Cancer
A protein used by embryo cells during early development, and recently found in many different types of cancer, apparently serves as a switch regulating metastasis.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Depression Linked to Telomere Enzyme, Aging, Chronic Disease
The first symptoms of major depression may be behavioral, but the common mental illness is based in biology — and not limited to the brain.
Thursday, May 23, 2013
Program for Breakthrough Biomedical Research to Celebrate 15 Years
A program that fosters basic science projects of potentially high impact is celebrating 15 years of discovery at UC San Francisco.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Scientific News
Genetic Basis of Fatal Flu Side Effect Discovered
A group of people with fatal H1N1 flu died after their viral infections triggered a deadly hyperinflammatory disorder in susceptible individuals with gene mutations linked to the overactive immune response, according to a recent study.
Developing Drug Resistance may be a Matter of Diversity for Tuberculosis
Researchers have probed the bacteria that causes tuberculosis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, to learn more about how individual bacterial cells change and adapt while in the human body.
Surprising Trait Found in Anti-HIV Antibodies
Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have new weapons in the fight against HIV.
Some Gut Microbes May Be Keystones of Health
University of Oregon scientists have found that strength in numbers doesn’t hold true for microbes in the intestines. A minority population of the right type might hold the key to regulating good health.
Essential Component of Antiviral Defense Identified
Infectious disease researchers at the University of Georgia have identified a signaling protein critical for host defense against influenza infection.
Single Vaccine for Chikungunya, Related Viruses May be Possible
What if a single vaccine could protect people from infection by many different viruses? That concept is a step closer to reality.
Is Allergy the Price We Pay for Our Immunity to Parasites?
New findings help demonstrate the evolutionary basis for allergy.
Blocking the Transmission Of Malaria Parasites
Vaccine candidate administered for the first time in humans in a phase I clinical trial led by Oxford University’s Jenner Institute, with partners Imaxio and GSK.
Mucus – the First Line of Defence
Researchers reveal the important role of mucus in building a good defence against invaders.
Antibody Targets Key Cancer Marker
University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers have created a molecular structure that attaches to a molecule on highly aggressive brain cancer and causes tumors to light up in a scanning machine.

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos