Scientists find "switch" on aggressive cancer cells

The most aggressively malignant cancer cells have a "toggle switch" that enables them to morph into highly mobile cells that invade other tissues and then nest comfortably in their new surroundings, a new study in rats suggests. This picture of how cancer cells shift between two alternating states--travelers and nesters--represents a new understanding of how cancer metastasizes, or spreads to other parts of the body, said the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers who conducted the study.

"Understanding this toggle switch might ultimately enable scientists to find ways to stop cells from metastasizing, which is the most deadly trait of cancer," said the study's lead investigator, Mariano Garcia-Blanco, M.D., Ph.D., professor of molecular genetics and microbiology.

- here's the release on the cancer research

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