With octopus-like tentacles, cancer cells move through the body, change direction and invade tissues. A group of researchers from the University of Copenhagen say that limiting this movement could prevent the development of the disease.
Associate Professor Poul Martin Bendix explained that while the cells lack anything resembling the senses of sight or smell, their surface is outfitted with ultra-thin filopodia that resemble entangled octopus tentacles.
“These filopodia help the cell to approach the bacterium and, at the same time, act as sensory antennae that identify the bacterium as prey,” explained the head of the experimental biophysics laboratory at the Niels Bohr Institute (NBI).
The procedure was discovered using a microscope, thanks to which the researchers observed a cell approaching and devouring a bacterium. The latest finding suggests that these “arms” are not just sensors, but actual tentacles.
» Cancer cells are characterized by being very invasive. And it is reasonable to believe that they depend especially on the effectiveness of their filopodia, in terms of scanning their environment and facilitating their spread. Therefore, it is conceivable that, by finding ways to inhibit the filopodia of cancer cells, cancer growth can be stopped, ”the expert postulated.
Depending on the version of StudyFindsthe filopodia move the cells in much the same way that rubber bands react when stretched: the same thing happens in the cells, helping them to change direction while the filopodia remain flexible.
The main author of the research, Natascha Leijnse, cancer cells “are capable of bending – twisting, if you will – in a way that allows them to explore all the space that surrounds the cell, and can even penetrate the surrounding tissues ».