Scientists at Duke University have shown that spreading cancer cells receive growth-sustaining signals from nearby blood vessels telling them where to go for permanent nourishment and oxygen.
These signals actually protect the fledgling cancer cells long before new blood vessels have grown around the cancer to supply it with a more permanent source of nutrients and oxygen, said the researchers from the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Their results were published in the Dec. 19 issue of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal.
“We’ve demonstrated a give and take relationship in which cancer cells release signals to nearby blood vessels to stimulate new vessel growth, and in turn, blood vessels release signals that sustain the migrating cancer cells as they try to establish themselves in new tissue,” said Mark Dewhirst, a cancer biologist at Duke.
Dewhirst said his team’s findings present a model of the earliest stages of cancer metastasis, and they bolster medicine’s latest strategy of blocking blood vessel growth as a means of inhibiting cancer’s spread.