Researchers from the University of Luxembourg have discovered a molecular mechanism that is responsible for the spread of cancer cells in the body and the development of metastases in patients with colon cancer. Their findings could help to develop treatments that inhibit tumor growth.
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is among the most prevalent cancer types worldwide, with an estimated 1.3 million new cases and almost 700’000 deaths per year. The vast majority of CRC-related deaths can be attributed to metastatic spreading of the disease. Therefore, it is of utmost clinical relevance to understand the biology that underlies cancer progression and metastasis initiation.
The scientists from the Molecular Disease Mechanisms (MDM) group at the University of Luxembourg compared cancer cells derived from primary, i.e. initial, tumors to metastatic cells from the same patient. The researchers found that a group of small molecules, namely the miR-371~373 cluster, is responsible for the regulation of colon cancer metastasis. In an interdisciplinary approach, combining experimental and computational analyses, the research team observed that the miR-371~373 cluster is deactivated in a specific population of very aggressive, fast-growing cancer cells. After the scientists reactivated the cluster in a complex series of experiments, the growth of the metastatic
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