A team of scientists at the Institute of Cancer Research (London) has found out an additional cause of the growth of tumors. According to them, a tumor can receive supplementary food from the surrounding blood vessels.
Malignant formations usually create a separate circulatory system that delivers nutrients to cancer cells. Most modern cancer therapies aim at suppressing tumor growth via antiangiogenic drugs. But new research has shown that cancer can receive additional nourishment from blood vessels nearby, which can also account for so many cases of relapse. The scientists haven’t been able to understand this process fully yet, but they managed to determine that a tumor may simply use the alternative method of development: it attaches to the adjacent blood vessels and tissues and uses them as a source of nutrients. This makes tumors particularly resistant to anti-cancer therapy.
The conclusions of the scientific group were confirmed by experiments with laboratory rodents who had liver cancer. At the initial stage of treatment the mice received antiangiogens that effectively inhibited the growth of cancer cells, but over time the cancer "sucked" into the adjacent vessels, and the drugs were completely inactive.
Also, the scientists have noted an unusual feature - malignancies formation reacted at the end of treatment as soon as rodents ceased to receive antiangiogens. According to the researchers, this feature explains why some cancer patients have positive dynamics after a break in treatment.
The British experts believe that the understanding of the mechanism of tumor will help create effective treatments to completely suppress the growth of cancer cells.
While some experts are trying to understand the process of cancer development, another research group said that cancer can be treated by activating the patient's own immune system. Surface proteins detected in tumor samples will help direct the work of the immune system against cancer. After studying the DNA of some patients, scientists have concluded that it is possible to create a vaccine based on proteins founded in tumors, which activates the immune system to fight against cancer cells.
This treatment has not yet been confirmed by clinical tests and the research group hopes to obtain all the necessary permits for further experiments in the next 2 years.
We should notice that all previous attempts of scientists to resist cancer using the patient's own immune system have been unsuccessful. Experts explained that the failures were due to the fact that initially the body was set wrong goal - cancer cells mutate and their appearance and features may become different.