Cancer cells, unfortunately, can be pretty efficient at spreading. This is partly due to their “sticky” characteristics, which makes them better at invading new areas in the body. But researchers in London have identified a gene that is responsible for making breast cancer cells sticky- and this could be a big deal!
By switching off different genes in breast tumors that were grown in mice, they were able to identify a particular gene, called ST6GaINAc2 (we’ll call it ST6 for short), that contributes to tumor formation. When it’s active, ST6 prevents cancer cells from binding to the proteins that are responsible for giving them their sticky characteristics. But when ST6 gene activity is low, the cells pick up these proteins, become sticky, and spread more efficiently.
Figuring out how breast cancer spreads is really important. If researchers can identify patients with low ST6 gene activity, they might be able to treat these patients with a drug that can replicate ST6′s ability to make tumor cells less sticky. And preventing cancer cells from ‘sticking’ is good for everyone!
This isn’t the first time researchers have looked at sticky cells- check out this link to see how sticky particles have been used to kill cancer cells! http://fbresearch.org/sticky-balls-blazing-a-trail-in-cancer-therapy/