New therapy prevents metastasis by putting cancer cells to sleep

The new therapeutic approach prevents the growth of metastatic tumors in mice, putting cancer cells into a dormant state in which cancer cells cannot multiply, reports EurekAlert !. The research results are published in Journal of Experimental Medicine.

The team previously discovered that the ability of cancer cells to remain dormant is controlled by the NR2F1 protein. This receptor protein can enter the cell nucleus and turn on or off numerous genes to activate a program that prevents the proliferation (in other words, proliferation, multiplication) of cancer cells. NR2F1 levels are usually low in primary tumors, but higher in dormant cancer cells. Then the level of this protein decreases again when cancer cells begin to proliferate again and form recurrent or metastatic tumors.

In the new work, scientists using computer screening have identified a drug called C26, which activates the NR2F1 protein. The researchers found that treating patient-derived HNSCC carcinoma cells with C26 increased levels of the NR2F1 protein and stopped cell proliferation.

The researchers then tested if C26 could prevent metastasis in mice. Animals injected with patient-derived HNSCC cells usually develop large primary tumors that spread to the lungs after the original tumor is surgically removed. Treatment with C26 reduced the size of the primary tumors, and after surgery, further doses of C26 completely blocked the growth of metastatic tumors. Instead, there were only a few dormant cancer cells in the lungs of the rodents, unable to reproduce even after stopping treatment.

For example, scientists have found that by activating NR2F1, C26 translates cancer cells into a long-lived dormant state, which is characterized by a unique pattern of gene activity.


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