Controlling Cancer Metastases To Prevent Disease Progression

Research at Heildelberg University is targeting the production of tumor-promoting growth factors in endothelial cells to prevent metastasis. Pre-clinical results using this strategy in a mouse model reduced lung and bone metastases in treated mice and also improved survival over the control chemotherapy-treated animals.

Cancer patients without overt metastases appear to be "tumor-free" upon surgical removal of the primary tumor. Yet, metastatic spread of tumor cells may already have occurred at the time of surgery. Many tumor patients are consequently treated with chemotherapy after surgery to fight metastasis. This may be necessary in patients with detectable metastases, but what kind of more gentle treatment options can be offered in patients without overt metastasis?

"It's a major dilemma for many tumor patients after surgery: Should they opt for a high-dose chemotherapy with all its devastating side effects? Or should they just wait-and-see and possibly live with a higher risk of metastatic disease?" asks Professor Augustin. His laboratory at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg and at the Medical Faculty Mannheim of Heidelberg University is studying the mechanisms of metastasis with the goal to develop more gentle supportive adjuvant therapies for tumor patients without detectable metastases following surgery of the primary tumor. Towards this end, the scientists focus on novel findings that suggest a much more active tumor-promoting role for endothelial cells, the cells lining the inner wall of blood vessels.

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