Cancer cells don't move like an 'intoxicated' person in body: Study
Contrary to previous research, a new study has suggested that cancer cells don't move through the body in a slow, aimless fashion like a drunken person.
This pattern, called a random walk, may hold true for cells traveling across two-dimensional lab containers, but Johns Hopkins researchers have discovered that for cells moving through three-dimensional spaces within the body, the "drunken" model doesn't hold true.
To address this dimensional disagreement, the study's authors have produced a new mathematical formula that they say better reflects the behavior of cells migrating through 3D environments.
Denis Wirtz, the university's vice provost for research, said the discovery reinforces the current shift toward studying how cells move in three dimensions.
His lab team has conducted earlier studies showing that that cells in 2D and 3D environments behave differently, which affects how cancer migrates within the body.
Wirtz said that cancer cells that break away from a primary tumor will seek out blood vessels and lymph nodes to escape and metastasize to distant organs.
For a long time, researchers have believed that these cells make their way to these blood vessels through random walks, but the new study shows that they do not, Wirtz said.
Instead, they saw that these cells will follow more direct, almost straight-line trajectories, which gives them a more efficient way to reach blood vessels and spread cancer, he said.
For researchers trying to understand how metastasis occurs, he added, this discovery has critical implications.
The study is published in the Proceedings of the American Academy of Sciences.
(Posted on 17-03-2014)