• Biologically active substances 'can tackle some cancers but help others'
    Biologically active substances can protect against tumours sometimes but promote growth elsewhere


Biologically active substances 'can tackle some cancers but help others'

Oct 28 2010

Biologically active substances believed to work in defending the body against the spread of cancerous cells may need to be studied in more detail.

Dr Panos Z Anastasiadis, cancer biologist at Mayo Clinic in Florida, has found evidence that epithelial cadherin (E-cadherin) can act as an oncogene, encouraging the growth of cancer.

The protein is currently one of the biologically active substances considered as a potential means of tackling cancer, as it can lower the chance of metastasis in some tumours.

A problem arises when the tumour has already metastasised, but continues to express E-cadherin in large amounts.

Brain cancer and glioblastoma cells also thrive in high levels of E-cadherin, the researchers found.

"It appears that E-cadherin expression in a tumour could be responsible for cells growing out of control if the protein is not functioning as it should be," says Dr Anastasiadis.

The Jacksonville, Florida campus of Mayo Clinic conducts clinical research programmes, as well as treating patients and coordinating initiatives including blood donation.

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