NEW HAVEN: A Yale-led research team has found that a melanoma cell and a white blood cell can fuse to form a hybrid with the ability to metastasize. The hybrid contains the properties of a white blood cell allowing it to migrate through the body taking the Cancer DNA in the hybrid along with it.
According to senior research scientist and study author John Pawelek collaborated with colleagues at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Center and the Denver Crime Laboratory to examine how cancer spreads from solid tumors.
The researchers said the theory of how cancers may spread was first presented more than 100 years ago.
The possibility that the discovery can lead to new approaches to controlling cancer’s ability to spread, could create new drugs. Explaining, Pawelek said, “we need to focus on how fusion between white blood cells and cancer cells actually occurs,” adding. “there are a lot of steps involved in that process and those steps are all vulnerable to targeting.”
The researchers said that future therapies could aim to either prevent fusion of cells derived from bone marrow, for example, or limit the integration of fused genes into hybrids. Research focused on such pathways could produce new techniques for targeting the metastasis process itself, the researchers said.