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article imageCancer patient's brain cells offer clues on how cancer spreads

By Tim Sandle     Dec 7, 2013 in Science
Exactly what triggers cancer cells to spread throughout the body remains a mystery. However, a study of the brain of a patient with brain cancer offer some clues.
Little is known about how cancer spreads, or metastasizes, throughout the body. However, a new study has indicated that cancer cells may fuse with white blood cells in order to spread. This finding was based on a study of a patient who was suffering with brain cancer.
Scientists at Yale University discovered a metastasis in the brain of a cancer patient that likely grew from the hybrid of a cancer cell and a white blood cell. According to Live Science, the revelations were produced when the research team investigated a brain metastasis in a 68-year-old cancer patient who had been treated with a bone marrow transplant from his brother. Bone marrow produces the body's macrophages, a type of white blood cell, and the macrophages from donated bone marrow are genetically distinct from the bone marrow of the person who receives them.
Subsequent analysis revealed an interesting fact: the brain metastasis contained genes from both the patient and his brother. If cell fusion turns out to be a major cause of metastasis, then such hybrids are potentially important targets for therapies.
The findings have been published in the journal Science, in a paper titled "Fusion for Moving".
More about Cancer, Brain cells, Brain cancer, Patient
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