Researchers have made a new discovery in a fatal and aggressive childhood cancer known as Ewing sarcoma, which could possibly help hinder the spread of cancer cells. This new discovery offers new insights into what causes the process that enables cancer cells to survive as they travel through the bloodstream of an individual, spreading beyond the primary tumor site.
Scientists with BC Cancer and the University of British Columbia have discovered that this particular type of cancer cells develop a shield that protects them from the bloodstream’s harsh environment as they metastasize. The researchers’ findings were reported in “Cancer Discovery.”
A renowned scientist at BC Cancer and professor of laboratory medicine and pathology Dr. Paul Sorensen, who is the senior author of the study, states that the bloodstream is an extremely harsh environment for tumor cells. Sorensen, who is also the director of the University of British Columbia’s Academy of Translational Medicine, explained that his team’s discovery shows that the cells of Ewing sarcoma develop an antioxidant response that shielded them, thus enabling their survival as they spread to other parts of the body.
Metastasis occurs when a cancer spreads throughout an individual’s body and is the primary predictor of a poor outcome for cancer patients, regardless of their age. This has been a challenging process for clinicians to target and for scientists to study. With this discovery, Sorensen notes it will be easier to target cancer cells in circulation, which may hinder metastasis from taking place.
It should be noted though that not all cancer cells can metastasize. Scientists have discovered that the cells of Ewing Sarcoma turn on IL1RAP expression on their surface, which is what develops the protein’s protective shield. IL1RAP is a naturally occurring gene that is found on the surface of cells.
The first author of the study, Dr. Haifeng Zhang, explains that the study is the first to demonstrate that the IL1RAP surface protein is overexpressed in childhood sarcomas, adding that this will be useful in the development of treatments that target this surface protein without inducing toxic side effects in non-cancerous cells.
Zhang, Sorensen and their colleagues from the National Cancer Institute’s PIDDN and the Pediatric Cancer Dream Team from the St. Baldrick’s Foundation are currently working to develop antibodies that target IL1RAP, with Zhang revealing that they’re optimistic that they may begin clinical trials in the near future.
With companies such as CNS Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: CNSP) engaged in the development of novel remedies for primary as well as metastatic cancers, which afflict not just the brain but also the central nervous system, any cancers detected early in childhood could soon be stopped in their tracks.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to CNS Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: CNSP) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/CNSP
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