Cancer :: Blocking beta1-integrin to treat cancer

Targeting the function of a protein known as beta1-integrin might represent a novelapproach to cancer treatment, according to a paper published online in The EMBO Journalthis week.

Blocking the action of this protein could help to prevent the formation ofmetastases by reducing tumour cell proliferation and inducing cell senescence.

Integrins are a family of transmembrane receptors that help maintain tissue integrityby attaching cells to the surrounding extracellular matrix and preventing them from migratingaround. These proteins are also important for cell survival and proliferation, and have beenshown to contribute to tumour progression in several ways.

Angelika Kren and colleagues investigated transgenic mice with insulinomas ?tumours of pancreatic beta cells, which metastasize in pancreas lymph nodes. When theauthors blocked beta1-integrin function in these mice, tumour cells started disseminating intolymphatic blood vessels because they were not attached to anything any more. However, thecells did not elicit metastasis and were unable to form tumours ? they stopped growing andbecame senescent.

The authors suggest that the ablation of beta1-integrin function, and the resultinginduction of cellular senescence, represent a potential therapeutic goal for the treatment ofcancer. Future research should help to identify the molecular players and pathways involved.

Leave a Comment