Researchers Spot Proteins Key to Cancer's Spread

New high-tech method should help find other chemotherapy targets

FRIDAY, April 8, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers say they've identified several key proteins on the surface of cancer cells that help these cells spread.

What's more, the Tufts University team found that destroying these proteins greatly decreased the ability of cancer cells to invade healthy cells. This finding suggests the proteins may provide a new target for drug development.

Most cancer deaths are the result of metastasis, not the original cancer. However, there are no drugs to specifically prevent metastasis, the researchers noted.

They also discovered that two molecules, previously known for other, non-cancer activities, are involved in the spread of cancer.

The findings were achieved using a new Fluorform-Assisted Light Inactivation (FALI) technology developed by the Tufts team. Using FALI, the researchers were able to destroy a specific protein while sparing all other proteins attached to the cell and inside the cell itself.

FALI can rapidly scan thousands of proteins associated with cancer cells and knock out one protein at a time. While it's doing this, FALI also searches for proteins crucial to cancer's spread.

The Tufts group reported their finding at this week's Experimental Biology meeting in San Diego.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about metastatic cancer .

SOURCE: Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, news release, April 3, 2005
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