Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Cancerous Communications

Understanding more about the crosstalk between cancer and its surrounding tissue – potential treatment targets revealed

23 December 2022

Cancerous Communications

The commonly held view of cancer progression is that one rogue mutant cell starts dividing out of control to form a tumour, which then expands and invades the surrounding tissue. But, new research suggests there’s much more to it than that. It’s not simply a case of the tumour bullishly conquering its environment. Instead, there seems to be an ongoing communication between the tumour and surrounding tissue, a positive feedback loop of signalling, that's needed to promote the cancer’s growth. This image shows a feature of such tumour-tissue crosstalk in skin with a growth factor that promotes tumour invasion (stained red) being released at the border (green) between the surrounding tissue and the cancer cells. The hope is that, if scientists can eavesdrop on these cancer-tissue conversations, they can figure out a way to silence them and shut the cancer down.

Written by Ruth Williams

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