'Flightless' molecule may prevent cancer from spreading from one tissue to another

July 31, 2012

Thanks to the "flightless" molecule, the spread of cancer from one tissue to another may one day be grounded. In a new report published in the August 2012 print issue of The FASEB Journal, laboratory experiments show that "flightless" (named after its effects on fruit flies) increases the "stickiness" that causes cells, including cancer cells, to attach to underlying tissue, which in turn, slows their movement throughout the body.

"The study of flightless and its role in the control of cell movement offers the promise of developing and treatments to control diseases in which cell movement has gotten out of control," said Christopher A. McCulloch, from Matrix Dynamics Group at the University of Toronto in Canada. "We hope that one day treatments to regulate cell movement could be used to bring under better control the spread of from a tumor into the rest of the body."

To make this discovery, scientists used three groups of cells that made either normal amounts of flightless, or were genetically modified to produce no flightless, or to make above-normal amounts of flightless. Researchers then studied the rate of movement of these different groups of cells and examined the specialized parts of cells that enable them to stick to tissues. When the stickiness of the cells to underlying tissues was examined, results showed that flightless had a marked effect on how quickly cells could detach from underlying tissues and move forward in response to stimuli that encourage them to migrate.

"Fighting a single tumor in one organ is hard, but the fact that many cancers metastasize adds new obstacles to treatment," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The . "This report on 'flightless' is an important first step toward to preventing cancers from taking off to other parts of the body."

Explore further: Researchers discover protein that could help prevent the spread of cancer

More information: Ibrahim Mohammad, Pamma D. Arora, Yeganeh Naghibzadeh, Yongqiang Wang, Jeff Li, Wendall Mascarenhas, Paul A. Janmey, John F. Dawson, and Christopher A. McCulloch. Flightless I is a focal adhesion-associated actin-capping protein that regulates cell migration FASEB J. doi:10.1096/fj.11-202051

Related Stories

Cell movement provides clues to aggressive breast cancer

October 3, 2011

Researchers from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center have identified a specific molecule that alters how breast cancer cells move. This affects the cells' ability to spread or metastasize to distant parts ...

Recommended for you

Combination therapy can prevent cytostatic resistance

November 26, 2015

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet have found a new way of preventing resistance to cytostatics used in the treatment of cancers such as medulloblastoma, the most common form of malignant brain tumour in children. The promising ...

Forecasting the path of breast cancer in a patient

November 23, 2015

USC researchers have developed a mathematical model to forecast metastatic breast cancer survival rates using techniques usually reserved for weather prediction, financial forecasting and surfing the Web.


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.