[TECHNOLOGY USED; UPDATE 10-31] Cancer-Derived Exosomes with Specific Integrin “Zip-Code” Signatures Target & Prime Specific Organs for Later Metastastis; New Work Supports Century-Old “Soil & Seed” Hypothesis for Metastatic Organotropism

[SEE LAST PARAGRAPH TO VIEW UPDATE ON THE TECHNOLOGY USED IN THIS LANDMARK STUDY] It's been a longstanding mystery — why certain types of cancers spread to particular organs in the body. Now, investigators from Weill Cornell Medicine, together with an international team of collaborators, have discovered precisely how this happens, supporting a century-old hypothesis known as the “seed and soil” theory of metastasis. The culprit? Protein signatures on the membranes of small, sub-cellular, tumor-secreted vesicles (exosomes) containing the blueprint that drives cancers to distant organs. These signatures could offer doctors a powerful new way to detect whether a patient's tumor will metastasize and to where, providing critical insights into the estimated 1.6 million new cancer cases diagnosed every year. Ninety percent of all cancer-related deaths are related to metastasis. In the new study, published online on October 28, 2015 in Nature, scientists investigated the role of cancer-derived exosomes, comprised of tumor-derived proteins, in preparing a microenvironment fertile for cancer metastasis. Working with exosomes derived from multiple cancers, the scientists discovered that the proteins exosomes carry act as "ZIP codes" that direct exosomes to distinct organs, where they lay the molecular groundwork for metastases to form. The Nature article is titled “Tumor Exosome Integrins Determine Determine Organotroppic Metastasis.” "Our research offers a new approach to identifying patients who are likely to develop metastatic disease," says senior author Dr. David Lyden, the Stavros S. Niarchos Professor in Pediatric Cardiology and a Professor of Pediatrics and of Cell and Developmental Biology at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City.
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