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New cancer breakthrough from Cambridge University could be a game-changer

Updated Oct 18th, 2022 3:23PM EDT
metastasis is how cancer spreads
Image: Tatiana Shepeleva

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Cancer has the terrifying ability to spread from any part of the body to another – and it’s part of what has always made these debilitating diseases so deadly. This process, known as metastasis, has always baffled scientists. Now, though, a new study may have pointed researchers in the right direction to help them understand how cancer spreads, which could also lead to new treatment options in the future.

The breakthrough in how cancer spreads came about during research conducted by a team based at the Cancer Research UK (CRUK) Cambridge Institute at the University of Cambridge. The researchers found that blocking the activity of certain proteins, like the NALCN protein, can also trigger the metastasis of cancer cells in mice.

The fight to find new treatment options for cancer has been a long and arduous one. Doctors have created a radioactive gel that can kill skin cancer cells, and some have even discovered that Viagra acts as an anti-cancer drug, too.

lung cancer MRIImage source: utah51 / Adobe

This new research could have given us a much-needed breakthrough in understanding why and how cancer spreads the way that it does. Which could open new treatment options for many. On top of spreading the cancer cells through metastasis, the researchers also found that the NALCN protein may also be responsible for stopping healthy cells from traveling to other parts of the body.

When the NALCN protein was removed, the researchers saw healthy cells from the pancreas migrating to the kidney, becoming healthy kidney cells. As a result of these findings, the researchers believe that metastasis, the main way cancer spreads, may not be an abnormal process tied to the disease after all.

This is especially huge news given that metastasis is the primary way that cancer cells transfer from one section of the body to another. And, since healthy cells can also utilize this transferring process, it may allow for more treatment options to be developed in the future. Understanding how cancer spreads has always been a key part of finding new ways to treat it.

The researchers published a paper on their findings in Nature Genetics.

Looking for more science news? Scientists recently treated terminal cancer using a modified herpes virus. Plus, a professor rediscovered a “miracle plant” previously believed to have been extinct for over 2,000 years. Also, scientists can diagnose illness by the sound of your voice.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.

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