Common white blood cells can be hijacked to support cancer spread

Common white blood cells can be hijacked to support cancer spread


So what we found is a new way that
cancer cells can hijack our white blood cells these cells that normally protect
us to help them spread to other tissues and that is related to this image here
which is something called electron microscopy where you can see very high
detail so this white blood cell that we have looked at is called a neutrophil
and neutrophils are very common in our body is our most common white blood cell
it’s normally working by attacking the bacteria or the yeast literally eating
them inside the cell but some of these microorganisms have
developed ways to avoid being eaten and then the neutrophil has countered again
with this very peculiar methods that’s sort of indicated in this picture so up
here you have a normal neutrophil it’s nice moving around and down here is a
neutrophil that has taken its DNA the DNA that’s normally inside the cell and
it’s encoding for all our building blocks in our body this DNA is instead
by the neutrophil being used sort of like a spider web and in that spider web
it’s put in the enzymes and toxins that are normally used to kill the bacteria
inside the cell but now instead it kills the bacteria outside the cell entangling
them in the spider web and then killing them in place so we were looking at how
cancer cells are arriving to the new tissue so when cancer cells spread from
the original tumor to different tissue they often spread through the blood and
this spider web we think are helping the cancer cell spread because these enzymes
that are normally used to kill the bacteria also can digest and dissolve
our tissues so by doing so there’s more holes and the cancer cells can better get
into the tissue and better expand so the big question for us now is can you
prevent metastases by tackling this process by preventing the white blood
cells from forming nets or by other way attacking these spider webs and here
was a clue that in cystic fibrosis these neutrophils are forming spider webs at
quite high number because of the persistent infections that are in the
lungs so you can treat cystic fibrosis patients with a agent that dissolves
these spider webs and that agent we tried to test it in the mice to see if
it worked the problem we had though was that once you put it inside a body now
you’re just not just inhaling it but you’re putting it in the blood
it has to go where the cancer cell goes now our body starts eliminating this
agent so we were collaborating with a group at Dana-Farber Michael Goldberg’s
group and they have developed something called a nanoparticle that when you
attach it to this dissolving agent called DNase now you have a drug that is
stable in the body for much much longer so in the experiments we’re doing in the
lab right now we are trying to find out what is the best way forward well how do
we identify the patients that could benefit from this kind of treatment and
how do we give how do we best attack these spider webs are there alternative
ways of attacking it, when should they attack it, all these kind of logistic
problems that are critical to address before you start giving this type of
treatment to patients.

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