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Study: Cancer cells need fat to spread


Experts make breakthrough in cancer research
For a long time, medical professionals have been looking for ways and means to curb the spread of cancer cells in our body. Researchers have now found that cancer cells need fat to travel through our bodies. The cells use the fat as a kind of transporter to spread in humans. Researchers are now trying to neutralize this ability, which could stop the spread of harmful cells.

Scientists from The Flanders Institute for Biotechnology found in an investigation that cancer cells need fat to travel and spread through our bodies. The experts are now working on ways to eliminate this cancer cell ability. The results of the investigations were published in the journal "Nature".

Cancer cells use fat as a way to spread
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are currently used to treat many types of cancer. The majority of cancer deaths occur when the cancer spreads through the human body. In order to spread, the cells use fat as a kind of existing path or use the fat to create new paths, the authors explain.

Cancer cells grow lymphatic vessels with the help of fat
The scientists at the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology made a breakthrough in cancer research. The doctors were able to determine that cancer cells have an increased need for fat in order to grow, so to speak, pathways (lymphatic vessels) that allow the disease to spread.

The role of lymphatic vessels in the spread of cancer
Lymphatic vessels are a special type of vessel. They carry fluid instead of blood. The liquid contained plays a primary role in the spread of cancer, the experts explain. So far, the formation of new lymphatic vessels (also known as lymphangiogenesis) has been a poorly researched procedure. As a result, there are no clinically approved drugs that can prevent growth.

Lymphatic vessels use more fat
Professor Dr. In their study, Peter Carmeliet and his colleagues examined the metabolism of nutrients through the lymphatic vessels. The investigation began with the simple observation that lymphatic vessels use more fat or fatty acids than blood vessels.

Medications should prevent fat utilization in the lymphatic vessels
So-called lymphatic growth can be prevented by using drugs to prevent fat utilization in the lymphatic vessels. In the future, this finding could inhibit metastasis, say the doctors. In order to understand why the cells are so dependent on fat, the researchers examined the development of lymphatic vessels.

The impact of fat use on lymphatic vessels
Lymphatic vessels arise from normal blood vessels during embryonic development. This conversion is due to an increase in fat usage. The fat is used to create certain molecules, the scientists say. These can then regulate the expression of the genetic code. The epigenetic changes ensure the function of the lymphatic vessels. The fat does not change the genetic code (DNA), but the experts add the use of the code that defines the lymphatic gene signature.

The growth of the lymphatic vessels must be controlled
Our study shows that the use of fat by lymphatic vessels is programmed in their development and is necessary for their growth and function, the researchers explain. By improving or preventing the use of fat (or fat by-products), we can control the growth of the lymphatic vessels, says author Dr. Brian Wong continues. This would prevent cancer cells from spreading and leading to more effective treatment for cancer patients.

Further research will focus on fat burning inhibitors
Future research will test so-called fat burning inhibitors for their ability to reduce metastasis in various types of cancer. It can be determined whether special fat supplements (for example in the form of ketone bodies, which are used by athletes, for example) can heal defective lymphatic vessels, the scientists say.

Effects of defective lymphatic vessels
Defective lymphatic vessels are a major complication in the treatment of cancer patients. When cancer is surgically removed, these vessels can lead to swelling and dysfunction of the arms and legs, which is also known as lymphedema, the doctors explain. No drug is currently available for this problem.

More research is needed
The immediate next studies will focus on further implementing these findings on cancer, says author Professor Carmeliet. In the past, we were unable to develop drugs that target the growth of lymphatic vessels. The reason for this was that we didn't understand their development and function, the professor added. (as)

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