Video: Finding the key to cancer metastasis

The capacity of cancer cells to spread throughout the body and invade new tissues — to become metastatic — makes them deadly. What makes metastatic cells different?

Scientists at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University have developed a technique for isolating displaying metastatic behavior out of a large group in culture.

The idea of precision medicine is based on the observation that in two different people may respond differently to treatment, based on the mutations that drive the cells' growth, even though they may come from the same organ and even look similar under the microscope.

Winship researchers are extending that concept to highlight how even in a single tumor, not all the cells are the same. Some may divide or migrate faster than others. A few cells might survive chemotherapy that kills the rest.

The isolation technique developed by cell biologist Adam Marcus and graduate student Jessica Konen seeks to probe these differences in cellular behavior. In the accompanying video, Marcus and Konen explain how they came up with the combination of labeling one or a few cells in culture, by changing them from fluorescent green to fluorescent red, and sorting out the labeled cells. The technique allows them to ask and answer questions such as:

Is the property of migrating faster (being a "leader cell") long-lasting and stable?

And, is that property connected with changes in the cell's DNA? Do leader cells and follower need each other to cause ?

This approach is expected to yield new insights into cancer cell biology, which may lead to new treatments that hamper metastasis.

In a new video, Winship Cancer Institute researchers shows how they're isolating and studying the behavior of "leader" cells that may be the key to cancer metastasis.

Explore further

Pancreas cancer spread from multiple types of wayward cells

Provided by Emory University
Citation: Video: Finding the key to cancer metastasis (2015, October 2) retrieved 3 December 2021 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Feedback to editors