On the relationship between cancerous and normal cells, and improved understanding on how cancer spreads to normal cells. Treatment implications are interesting:
This knowledge means that, instead of trying to kill tumours, as has traditionally been done when a person is diagnosed with cancer, treatments could be developed to target healthy cells.
“We hope to use our new knowledge of the tumour’s immediate surroundings to intercept its signals to cancer cells and, by doing so, dramatically impede tumour spreading,” said Valbona Luga, a PhD student in Dr. [Jeff] Wrana’s lab and co-author of the study.
“Instead of only targeting the primary tumour, we can now pinpoint the cells in the tumour’s environment that are responding to the tumour and target those too, ” she said.
In other words, the hope is that drugs can be developed that prevent cancerous cells from sending out their messages – a bit like cutting the phone lines.
Dr. Wrana said work is being done on drug development, but results are many years away. “It’s really hard to predict timing,” he said.