Cancer is most deadly when it has begun to spread as successful treatment is much more difficult. Scientists around the globe are therefore trying to understand how the process occurs and develop new ways to stop it.
Professor Benitah’s team found CD36 was present on metastatic cancer cells from patients with a range of different tumors including oral tumors, melanoma skin cancer, ovarian, bladder, lung and breast cancer. To confirm its essential role in cancer spread, they added CD36 to non-metastatic cancer cells which then caused the cells to become metastatic.
“Although we have not yet tested this in all tumor types, we can state that CD36 is a general marker of metastatic cells, the first I know of that is generally specific to metastasis,” says Professor Benitah, Head of the Stem Cell and Cancer Lab at IRB Barcelona.
“We expect this study to have a big impact on the scientific community and to further advances in metastasis research, and we hope to be able to validate the potential of CD36 as an anti-metastasis treatment. Things like this don’t happen every day.”
Dr. Stegall’s Comments: Cell markers such as CD36 will hopefully prove to be reliable measurements of the presence of cancer, and also provide us a target for preventing and reducing the spread of cancer.