Blocking the action of a protein called CD151 stopped cancer cells from metastasizing within fertilized chicken embryos, according to The Scripps Research Institute scientists.
Previously, the investigators generated an antibody that targets CD151, a cell-membrane protein that has been associated with cell motility.
The Scripps team used an experimental system with fertilized chicken embryos with no shells. When they treated the embryos with the antibodies, they found that the tumors did not metastasize. Instead, the cancer cells stayed tightly clustered.
It turns out that blocking this protein does not stop motility at all, the researchers report. It halts intravasation—the moment when a cancer cell breaks free from its tumor. “Targeting this protein keeps the cancer cells tied to their tumors,” says James Quigley, Ph.D., proffesor in the department of cell biology at Scripps. “This may be the first time anyone has shown a potential way of blocking cancer metastasis at its very earliest stage—as the cells are first pulling away from their tumors of origin.”
The study is published in the March 11 issue of Cancer Cell.