Metastasis – the process of cancer cells leaving a tumour and entering the blood stream – signals a high risk for the formation of secondary tumours around the body and a lower likelihood of successful treatment. Scientists thus want to understand how tumours begin metastasis and how to stop it. Pictured is a three-dimensional artificial blood vessel – lined with real blood vessel wall cells (stained green) – and adjacent tumour cells (stained red). Using this model, which allows a close-up, real-time view of tumour cell behaviour, researchers can analyse pathways and molecules that regulate the integrity of the vessel wall cells. They find that certain factors make it easier for tumour cells to escape into the blood. Focusing on these factors could lead to new treatments that stop cancer cells in their tracks.
Written by Ruth Williams
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