Dalhousie University Spotting the key initiator of tumor growth could help experts develop new ways to treat breast cancer. In this view, professionals at Dalhousie University have spotted a vital mechanism of metastasis that may aid in creating a barrier to tumor advancement if the revelations are affirmed.

The research sheds light on the macrophage cell surface protein S100A10 that transits macrophages to the tumor location which is a key process involved in tumor progression.

“We used to think that the only cells that mattered in a tumor were the cancer cells, and that’s it, but now we are beginning to see that other cells must collaborate with cancer cells to drive tumor growth and permit an evolution of the cancer cells into metastatic cells. This change is what causes poor prognosis and ultimately what kills the patient,” remarked lead researcher David Waisman.

The team believes that cancers will not advance without the assistance of macrophages. How these macrophages reach the tumor site by circulating in the blood or tissues has not been traceable as yet.

Tissues are known to block the area surrounding the cancer and these macrophages have to overcome this barrier to reach the cancerous region and integrate with the cells. The findings showed that the macrophage is enveloped on the outside by the protein S100A10 that helps the macrophage eliminate the tissue barriers that halt their transition to the tumor location.

Therefore, the scientists conclude that either the macrophages or S100A10 may have to be chemically blocked to delay and even cease tumor development. The team is now headed towards comprehending the precise mechanism involved in the functioning of S100A10 and certain pharmaceutical agents that can disturb the action of this protein.

The report is published in the journal, Cancer Research.