Researchers from the Development and Growth Control Laboratory at IRB Barcelona have identified the cell types and molecular mechanism responsible for the unlimited growth potential of epithelial tumors (carcinomas) and demonstrated that the growth of these tumors is independent of the tumor’s microenvironment. "In epithelial tumors caused by chromosomal instability or loss of cell polarity, the interaction between two tumor cell populations drives malignant growth," explains Dr. Marco Milán, ICREA Research Professor and Head of the laboratory. Published as the cover story of the August 29, 2017 issue of PNAS, the study analyzes solid tumors of epithelial origin in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. "We have induced tumor development in two ways--by generating genomic instability and the loss of cell polarity. We have validated the causal relation between these two conditions--which are frequently observed in carcinomas--and the development of tumors," explains Dr. Mariana Muzzopappa, first author of the study and postdoctoral fellow in the Development and Growth Control Lab.
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