Cancer

Is this the key to stopping cancer from spreading?

Cancer cells dividing
Divide and conquer – can metastasis be controlled?

When a tumor migrates to another part of the body, it makes cancer much more difficult to beat. A recently published study, investigating a metabolite called 20-HETE, gives new insight into this process and how it might be stopped.

Cancer’s ability to metastasize – move through the body and take root in a distant location – is a thorn in the side of cancer treatments.

A localized tumor is much easier to treat, and chances of survival are greater. Once the tumor has moved on, it can be harder to control. Around 30 percent of people with breast cancer experience metastasis, commonly affecting the lymph nodes, bones, brain, lungs, and liver.

Understanding how a tumor sets up shop in distant parts of the body is an important area of study. The trouble is, cancer is incredibly adept at finding a new location; in fact, tumors constantly send out cells into the bloodstream to see if they take hold and flourish. They are also experts at recruiting cellular assistance and making their new home perfect for supporting their continued growth.

New research, looking at a metabolite called 20-HETE, hopes to learn how we can disrupt cancer’s ability to succeed in distant tissues.

What is 20-HETE?

20-HETE (20-Hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid) is a breakdown product of arachidonic acid, a fatty acid used widely throughout the body. 20-HETE carries out a number of useful roles, including the regulation of vascular tone, blood flow to organs, and sodium and fluid transport in the kidney. The metabolite also plays a role in inflammation, helping the body fight off infections and other diseases.

Aside from its natural and positive effects, 20-HETE appears to have a darker, more sinister side; these murky depths are currently being plumbed by postdoctoral fellow Dr. Thaiz F. Borin and his team at Augusta University, GA. His latest findings are…