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Scientists Learn How Cancer Spreads Faster in Liver than in Any Other Organ

Cancer is a disease where the malignant cells attack healthy cells in a particular portion of our body. Technically, a chunk of unhealthy cancer cells is called tumour. Soon, the normal functioning is disturbed in that portion of the body by the tumour. It then spreads to other parts of the body through a process called Metastasis. Cancer is said to reach an advanced stage as Metastasis commences. The disease becomes incurable and can only be treated then. Based on observations, doctors learnt that cancer spreads to the liver faster than any other organ of the body. Researchers at the New York University School of Medicine have now discovered that the immune system is responsible for this. The results of the findings are published in detail in the journal Leukocyte Biology. This article tries to gain further insight on this topic.

Knowledge Gained from Research:

  • The researchers carried out their study on experimental mice.
  • Pancreatic cancer was allowed to develop in these mice by making changes in their progenitor cells of pancreas.
  • Similar to stem cells, the progenitor cells can also differentiate into a number of other cell types.
  • But the only difference is that stem cells can divide indefinitely, whereas progenitor cells can get divided limited number of times only.
  • Mice with advanced colon cancer spreading to their abdomen were also included in the study.
  • The role of immune suppressive cells in the liver was studied from a very early stage of cancer development.
  • The study revealed that by combating these immune suppressive cells in the very early stage of cancer, the disease can be inhibited from spreading further.
  • Now that the role of immune system in facilitating the spread of the disease is learnt, the next stage of research is to learn of ways which can prevent this process.

Significance of this Research: According to the National Cancer Institute, there were 22,620 new cases of liver cancer in the United States in 2009, causing 18,160 deaths eventually. The researchers believe that their findings will open up new ways of tackling liver cancer and developing novel therapeutic techniques.

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