Stopping cell migration may help block fibrosis and the spread of cancer

By Helen Dodson

(Medical Xpress) -- Discoveries by a Yale-led team of scientists could lead the way for development of new therapies for treating fibrosis and tumor metastasis. The researchers have both uncovered a signaling pathway that promotes cell migration in certain forms of pulmonary fibrosis, a deadly lung disease, and developed a drug treatment that may block the cancer cell migration. The study appears in the Advance Online Publication of Nature Cell Biology.

Pulmonary fibrosis is the development of excessive connective tissue in the lungs. It can develop without a known cause, and produces permanent in the lungs.  There is no known cure or treatment to slow down its progress.

Cell migration is the biological process by which cells move around the body, often contributing to the development or spread of diseases such as fibrosis or metastatic cancer.

Fibroblast connective tissue cells and cancer cells migrate in a way that requires sustained activation of signaling pathways. But until now the regulation of these cellular functions has been poorly understood. The Yale team studied the workings of a stimulant of cell migration known as lysophosphatidic acid (LPA). They identified the chemical reactions that ultimately induce , but more importantly, discovered a way to block the pathway via inhibition of the proteins responsible for promoting the migration.

Senior author Dianqing (Dan) Wu, professor of pharmacology and vascular biology at Yale School of Medicine and member of Yale Cancer Center, explained, “Our ability to block the pathway provides a potential therapeutic target for treating , a very serious disease that lacks effective treatments, and other types of fibrosis. Because cancer cells, particularly melanoma and lung cancer cells containing activated BRAF genetic mutations, can use this signaling pathway to migrate, blocking this pathway could also prevent metastasis of these cancers.”

More information: Other authors are Xiaoqing Gan, Jiyong Wang and Chen Wang of Yale; Eeva Sommer and Dario Alessi of the University of Dundee; Tohru Kozasa of the University of Illinois at Chicago; Srinivasa Srinivasula of the National Cancer Institute; Stefan Offermanns of the Max-Planck-Institute for Heart and Lung Research; and Melvin I. Simon of the University of California at San Diego.

The study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Ellison Medical Foundation.

Related Stories

Scarred lungs leave trail of beta arrestins

date Mar 28, 2011

Targeting a family of signaling proteins called beta arrestins may stop the life-threatening scarring and thickening of lungs associated with pulmonary fibrosis, reports a new Science study in mice.

Progression of lung fibrosis blocked in mouse model

date Oct 05, 2011

A study by researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine may lead to a way to prevent the progression, or induce the regression, of lung injury that results from use of the anti-cancer chemotherapy ...

Recommended for you

Organ transplant rejection may not be permanent

date 2 hours ago

Rejection of transplanted organs in hosts that were previously tolerant may not be permanent, report scientists from the University of Chicago. Using a mouse model of cardiac transplantation, they found that immune tolerance ...

Researchers find key mechanism that causes neuropathic pain

date 4 hours ago

Scientists at the University of California, Davis, have identified a key mechanism in neuropathic pain. The discovery could eventually benefit millions of patients with chronic pain from trauma, diabetes, shingles, multiple ...

Deep sea light shines on drug delivery potential

date 5 hours ago

A naturally occurring bioluminescent protein found in deep sea shrimp—which helps the crustacean spit a glowing cloud at predators—has been touted as a game-changer in terms of monitoring the way drugs ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.