New paper offers insights into how cancer cells avoid cell death

June 19, 2013 by William G. Gilroy
New paper offers insights into how cancer cells avoid cell death

(Medical Xpress)—A new study by a team of researchers from the University of Notre Dame provides an important new insight into how cancer cells are able to avoid the cell death process. The findings may reveal a novel chemotherapeutic approach to prevent the spread of cancers.

Metastasis, the spread of cancer from one organ to other parts of the body, relies on cancer cells' ability to evade a cell death process called anoikis, according to Zachary T. Schafer, Coleman Assistant Professor of at Notre Dame. Metastasizing cancer cells are able to block anoikis, which normally results from detachment from the extracellular matrix. However, Schafer notes that the molecular mechanisms that cancer cells detached from the extracellular matrix use to survive have not been well understood.

"This paper reveals that cancer cells that are detached from their normal environment, as they would be during metastasis, rely on the activity of antioxidant enzymes to facilitate their survival," Schafer said. "This class of enzymes is critical for neutralizing oxidative stress and function much like the that are present in a variety of healthy foods."

The paper describes a prominent role for antioxidant enzymes in facilitating the survival of after detachment from the . Conversely, the researchers report, silencing antioxidant enzyme expression reduced tumor formation.

"The results in this paper suggest that targeting with novel therapeutics may selectively kill off metastasizing cancer cells," Schafer said.

The paper appears in the current issue of the journal Cancer Research, which is the most frequently cited cancer journal in the world.

Explore further: Breast cancer cells spread by digging their escape route

More information:

Related Stories

Researchers discover master regulator in cancer metastasis

June 10, 2013

In the process of metastasis, the movement of cancer cells to different parts of the body, a specific master regulator gene plays a central role: a transcription factor named Sox4 activates a sequence of genes and triggers ...

Developmental protein plays role in spread of cancer

June 14, 2013

A protein used by embryo cells during early development, and recently found in many different types of cancer, apparently serves as a switch regulating the spread of cancer, known as metastasis, report researchers at the ...

Recommended for you

Compound doubles up on cancer detection

October 8, 2015

Tagging a pair of markers found almost exclusively on a common brain cancer yields a cancer signal that is both more obvious and more specific to cancer, according to a study published last week in the Proceedings of the ...


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.