One of the goals of immunotherapy for cancer is control of metastasis, which is a leading cause of cancer deaths. Results of a recent study concerning metastasis and blood flow could shed some needed light on ways to disrupt the process.
Investigating the “Metastatic Cascade”
In metastasis, tumor cells migrate from the original site via the lymph system or bloodstream to establish secondary tumors. The process involves a series of six steps known as the metastatic cascade.
A team from Frances’s National Institute of Health and Medical Research conducted tests focused on the fourth step, when tumor cells build up in tiny capillaries and pass through the walls into surrounding tissue. During the first phase, they tracked tumor cells in zebrafish embryos.
The Relationship Between Blood Flow and Metastasis
The scientists discovered there was a specific velocity range of blood flow connected with capillaries where the tumor cells stopped traveling. Blood flow was also found to be an essential factor in allowing the capillary lining, or endothelium, to “remodel” around the tumor cells.
Researchers came to the same conclusions in the next phase, involving mice with brain metastases. For the final step, the team observed brain metastases in 100 human patients.
When the scientists compared the brain metastases map to one showing the blood flow of a healthy human, it confirmed the results of the zebrafish tests. Secondary tumors tended to grow in areas with specific blood flow velocity.
Immunotherapy for Cancer: Treating Tumors and Their Environment
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