Role of White Blood Cells in Cancer Revealed

By  , Agency News
Jul 03, 2013

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White blood cells

According to a new study, it has been revealed that cancer cells can get activated and spread by infection-fighting white blood cells (WBC). Senior author Dr. Lorenzo Ferri, MUHC director of the Division of Thoracic Surgery and the Upper Gastrointestinal (GI) Cancer Program said that he and his researchers have identified a new way that cancer spreads.

The next step for the researchers is to examine whether these medicines will work for the prevention and treatment of cancer metastasis, and then to determine the optimal timing and dosing. For this, Dr. Ferri and his colleagues from McGill University and the University of Calgary used both cultured cells and mouse models of cancer to demonstrate that there is a relationship between infection, a white blood cell response (inflammation) and metastasis.

The white blood cells produce a web-like network called Neutrophils Extracellular Traps (NETs) in retort to an infection and this normally traps and kills invading pathogens, such as bacteria. The scientists also showed that breaking down the neutrophil web is achievable by using certain medication. This study helped the doctors to understand that neutrophil webs may be a common pathway involved in the spreading of different cancer types.

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