Taiwan-US Research Team Announces Major Breakthrough in Cancer Spread

Taiwan-US Research Team Announces Major Breakthrough in Cancer Spread
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National Taiwan University Hospital's Breast Center Director Huang Jun-sheng says that most of the failed treatments result from the spread of the cancer to vital organs such as the brain, lung and liver. So far there is no possibility for patients suffering from metastasis to survive for a long time.

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Cancer spread (metastasis) has always been the main reason for the failure of cancer treatment. Shen Tang-long, associate professor at National Taiwan University’s (NTU) Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, and a research team from Cornell Medical College found that cancer cells do not just randomly spread, but send “sentinels" to the target organ before the metastasis takes place.

This is a significant discovery that gives hope to stop cancer from spreading in the future.

UDN reports, the study was published on the online edition of an international journal, “Nature,” on October 28. NTU is also about start clinical trials and preliminary outcomes are expected within three years.

Apple Daily reports, Shen says as early as 1889 there was a British scholar who had introduced the seed and soil hypothesis, which refers to cancer as seeds that need to grow in a fertilized environment. The hypothesis suggests that metastasis does not occur randomly, but it wasn’t confirmed. Until 2005, the research team led by Professor David Lyden at Cornell Medical College finally confirmed the hypothesis, but the process and mechanism still remained unclear.

Shen joined David Leyden’s international research team and found that a tumor will release lots of “fertilizers" before it spreads. These fertilizers are wrapped in nano-sized exosomes, and with the help of integrins on the cell’s surface, the fertilizers will be guided to a specific location just like sentinels, sending the exosomes to a specific organ; just like how breast cancer spreads to the liver or lung.

Lyden says the study provides a new way of treatment. Doctors can apply precautionary measures to early-stage cancer patients to prevent cancer from spreading instead of waiting until the cancer deteriorates.

Liberty Times reports, National Taiwan University Hospital’s Breast Center Director Huang Jun-sheng says that most of the failed treatments result from the spread of the cancer to vital organs such as the brain, lung and liver. So far there is no possibility for patients suffering from metastasis to survive for a long time.

Take breast cancer for example. About half of the patients can only live for five more years after the cancer spreads. If the metastasis is predictable, doctors will be able to prescribe the medicine in advance as well as apply a more effective treatment. However, it still needs some time before clinical trials take place.

Translated by Vic Chiang
Edited by Olivia Yang

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