A possible way to stop a tumor from spreading: Look inside

Variations of the amino acid tyrosine may serve as a potentially safer way to block tumor metastasis, Argentinian researchers have found. Equally intriguing, they discovered the compounds housed inside the tumors themselves.

The finding could have a major impact on treatment of late-stage cancers that have spread. Usually, doctors treat the growth of secondary tumors with chemotherapy, but results are mixed and chemo is also highly toxic and rough on patients. Using tyrosine variations could be a safe and easy alternative, said lead researcher Raúl Ruggiero of the National Academy of Medicine in Buenos Aires.

"If these findings are confirmed," Ruggiero said in a statement, "we could develop new and more harmless means to manage malignant disease."

Researchers made their discovery indirectly. Studying laboratory models of localized cancer, they used bioanalytical methods of ion electrospray mass and tandem mass spectrometry to seek out "concomitant tumor resistance", a phenomenon inside a tumor where genetic factors can block its metastasis.

They determined that the tyrosine variations caused the concomitant tumor resistance, and that tumors with the compounds grow more slowly than those that didn't have them.

Details of the study are published in a recent issue of Cancer Research.

- here's the release
- check out the study abstract