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  • An epigenetic change that causes metastasis

    images53The processes of metastasis, associated with 90% of cancer deaths, are a series of chained steps where the primary tumor invades surrounding tissues and just spreading throughout the body. One of the first tissues to suffer metastasis are the lymph nodes surrounding the tumor. Manel Esteller’s group has recently published an article in PNAS conducted in the National Cancer Research Center (CNIO), explaining how tumor cells escape from their original location to the lymph nodes.

    The work shows how these tumor cells show a loss of activity of small molecules of microRNA. These microRNA in healthy cells are responsible for slowing the growth and cell division thereof, and are set in their tissue. In cancer, these microRNA longer occur because the chemical methyl groups block its expression, as if a stop sign is involved and then the cell starts to divide frantically desadherirse of its substrate and migrate to neighboring structures such as the lymph nodes and distant organs. The microRNA that should perform the function of suppression of metastasis, and that are altered in these patients are miR-148A, miR-34b / c and miR-9.

    The findings highlight its possible practical application. First, the study of abnormal methylation of the microRNA could be used as a biomarker for predicting the risk of developing metastasis and can thus determine the most appropriate clinical management of the patient. Finally, the findings may have application in treating these patients. There are already drugs that are able to eliminate abnormal and methyl groups that could be used to restore these microRNA activity have inhibitory functions of metastasis. Both possibilities will require additional translational clinical studies.

    Published on November 18, 2012 · Filed under: Bioscience, News; Tagged as: , , , ,
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