Researchers at the University of California are of the opinion that cell "stickiness" is an indicator of whether cancer will spread to the other parts of the body. They claim that the lesser a tumor cell sticks to their surrounding cells, they more likely it is for them to migrate and invade other tissue.
According to BBC, this finding can open a new horizon in medical science in identifying cancer patients with cell "stickiness" needing aggressive treatment at an early stage. The said research to find cell "stickiness" is, though, at a nascent stage and might take many years to be applied in clinical trials. For now, primary attempts are being made to find a marker that can identify the harmful cancer cells in a tumor. The researchers, though, have not yet faced any success in this attempt.
Cancer cells reportedly detach and migrate away from the primary tumor and form a secondary, metastatic site, but only a small number of cancer cells are capable of doing that. The research team built a "spinning disc" device which is able to detect the adhesion strength of breast and prostate cancer cells and the amount of force required to detach them. The researchers claim that the device has shown that there may be a probability of the existence of a physical marker that can predict the spreading of cancer via cell "stickiness".
According to Phys.org, the researchers have developed a second-generation device to detect the cell "stickiness" in cancer cells. The device isolates the migratory cancer cells that adhere weakly to other cells. The future studies will see whether these cells, when tested on mice, forms tumors at a higher rate than the general tumor cells. On the success of the hypothesis, the researchers will look for the amount of cell "stickiness" in mice and human, and how these weakly adherent cells correlate with the cancer-free times of the patients' survival.
In the future, this device can be used to examine biopsies of the tumor and assume the likelihood of "metastasis" in the patients. This information will be helpful to assess whether the patients will need aggressive treatment or not at an earlier stage. It will also help in building a better picture of cancer development.
According to the researchers, cancer spreading in the newer areas of the body is the main reason for people's death. The study of cell "stickiness " helps the researchers understand more about the spreading of cancer cells in the lab.