The Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST) researchers found the cells responsible for the metastasis of oral cancer. Their findings have been published online 07 December 2016 in Nature. Salvador Aznar Benitah of IRB Barcelona is the senior author.
Metastasis is the main cause of cancer-related death. It refers to a process in which cancer cells move beyond their original site. If we can prevent this process, it will improve patient prognosis.
CD36, also known as FAT (fatty acid translocase), is an integral membrane protein present on the surface of many cell types. CD36 plays a role in long-chain fatty acid uptake and signaling.
Only some cells in a tumor have CD36. Benitah's team transplanted human oral cancer cells into mice and discovered that cancer cells with CD36 are among the first to metastasize.
Moreover, using antibodies to block CD36 had a very strong anti-metastatic effect. The antibodies greatly reduced the size of tumors in mice. Besides, some mice even experienced complete remission. Such antibodies may be used to prevent metastasis in humans but more research is needed. "However, we still do not know the precise mechanism of why blocking CD36 results in such a strong effect on metastasis," said Benitah.
The study also showed that a high fat diet potently boosts the metastatic potential of the tumors. The researchers found that palmitic acid, a type of fat, plays a key role in promoting metastasis. Flarebio provides CD36 and polyclonal antibody.