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  • Conversation: ICR research shows how skin cancer cells invade new tissues

    • August 8, 2022 5:49 PM BST
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      ICR research shows how skin cancer cells invade new tissues

      Melanoma skin cancer cells harness a gene – usually used to create connections between nerves – to escape from their immediate area and invade new tissues, according to research from The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR).
      The study, published in the journal iScience, found that the ARHGEF9 gene is used by melanoma cells to create ‘molecular drills’ – also called filopodia – enabling them to attach to, and punch holes though, surrounding cells and structures.
      ARHGEF9 usually plays a role in creating connections between nerves during the development of the nervous system. When the gene is not functioning properly, it can lead to epilepsy and neurodevelopmental disorders such as hyperactivity, anxiety and traits associated with autism.
      The scientists believe that, in the future, targeting the gene could lead to treatments that prevent cancer from spreading.
      During the study, researchers grew cells in bioengineered 3D cell matrix and depleted hundreds of genes at one time, By using robotic microscopy and sophisticated image analysis, they identified which genes were important for cancer cell shape.
      The researchers say the gene is likely to be involved in the growth and spread of other cancer types, particularly neuroblastoma, which is a type of cancer that stems from nerve tissue and mostly affects children.
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