SCIENTISTS BELIEVE they have discovered a new clue about cell growth which could lead to new drugs to tackle the most deadly form of skin cancer.
Cancer Research UK scientists at the University of Manchester found that some melanoma cells are particularly fast growing, but not very good at invading the surrounding tissue. In contrast, some melanoma cells are highly invasive but slow-growing, according to the study published in Cell Reports.
In a tumour, the faster-growing cells piggy-back along with the more invasive cells and can be more effective in creating a new tumour once they have reached different parts of the body.
See-through zebra fish were used by the researchers to see how the cancer cells moved and grew from the original tumour.
Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, with around 13,300 people diagnosed in the UK annually.
Study author Dr Claudia Wellbrock said: “We used to think that cancer cells spread by first specialising in invading other parts of the body and then change in order to grow rapidly.
“But this research shows that melanoma can spread by ‘co-operative invasion’.
Different types of cancer cells with different strengths and weaknesses are both present in the tumour at the same time and can work together to spread faster and more efficiently. This has profound implications for how we find cures for this terrible disease.”
Professor Richard Marais, of the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, said: “We also need to stress the importance of early diagnosis.”