Nav: Home

Zebrafish capture a 'window' on the cancer process

June 04, 2019

Cancer-related inflammation impacts significantly on cancer development and progression. New research has observed in zebrafish, for the first time, that inflammatory cells use weak spots or micro-perforations in the extracellular matrix barrier layer to access skin cancer cells.

The research, led by the University of Bristol and published in Cell Reports today [Tuesday 4 June], used translucent zebrafish to model several sorts of skin cancer and live image how inflammatory cells find the growing cancer cells in the skin. To access the cancer cells, the immune cells need to first breach an extracellular matrix barrier layer called the basement membrane zone.

The researchers observed weak spots in the basement membrane zone, which the inflammatory cells use as easy routes to access the cancer. Those clones of cancer cells nearest to the weak spots tend to receive more inflammatory cell visits and as a consequence they grow faster.

Paul Martin, Professor of Cell Biology in the Schools of Biochemistry and Physiology, Pharmacology & Neuroscience at the University of Bristol, said: "As the zebrafish are translucent, we can watch inflammatory cells interacting with cancer cells in ways not possible in our own tissues.

"This 'window' on the cancer process has revealed 'weak spots' in the barrier layer that inflammatory cells must breach in order to access and feed the cancer cells within the skin. Now we know these micro-perforations exist we can target them with cancer therapeutics."

Inflammatory cells (white blood cells) are known to be key players encouraging cancer malignancy from the earliest stages of cancer initiation, but it has been unclear how they gain access to the cancer cells which generally develop within epithelial tissues, which have a barrier layer of extracellular matrix between them and the tissues from where the inflammatory cells arise. Inflammatory cells could kill the growing cancer but instead tend to nourish it and encourage cancer progression.

The study's findings have clear clinical relevance to cancer patients because microperforations in the basement membrane zone have been shown to occur in human airways and guts and so could act as similar portals to let inflammatory cells gain access to the cancer.
-end-
The research has been funded by CRUK and Wellcome Trust.

Paper

'Proteolytic and opportunistic breaching of the basement membrane zone by immune cells during tumour initiation' by Paul Martin et al in Cell Reports

University of Bristol

Related Cancer Articles:

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.
Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.
More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.
New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.
More Cancer News and Cancer Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...