Researchers uncover new target to stop cancer growth
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IMAGE: 3D super-resolution microscopy shows that breast cancer cells (left) contain many large multivesicular bodies (green and red) that are full of exosomes ready to be released from the cell. In… view more 

Credit: Messenger et al., 2018

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have discovered that a protein called Munc13-4 helps cancer cells secrete large numbers of exosomes–tiny, membrane-bound packages containing proteins and RNAs that stimulate tumor progression. The study, which will be published June 21 in the Journal of Cell Biology, could lead to new therapies that stop tumor growth and metastasis by halting exosome production.

Cancer cells produce large numbers of exosomes, which contribute to tumor progression in many different ways. They can transfer cancer-causing oncogenes to neighboring cells to increase their proliferation; they can contain proteins that reorganize the cancer cells’ surroundings and allow them to spread to other tissues; and they can contain signaling factors that disrupt the body’s ability to mount an immune response against the tumor.

A team led by Thomas F.J. Martin of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with Scott W. Messenger as lead author found that calcium–which is often increased in cancer cells–stimulated the secretion of exosomes from aggressive breast cancer

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