Washington [US]Jan. 17 (ANI): Researchers have published a detailed description of how ovarian cancer cells adapt to survival and proliferation in the abdominal cavity in a study recently published in Frontiers in Oncology.
The researchers show that as the disease progresses from benign to malignant, the structures in cells change, which helps cells grow in an otherwise hostile environment with little nutrients and little oxygen.
Understanding how these cellular adaptations are regulated could usher in new targeted treatment options against the fifth leading cause of cancer-related death in women.
“Our study compared the structures in cells that represent different stages of ovarian cancer, even after aggregation, which improves their survival,” says Eva Schmelz, professor and scientific director at Virginia Tech University, USA, who led this research.
“We found that one of these structures, the mitochondria, known as the cell’s ‘battery pack’, changed shape and function to adapt to the hostile conditions in the abdominal cavity, allowing aggressive cancer cells to grow and establish themselves.” he added enamel.
Deadly spread of cells
Ovarian cancer can often start from cancer cells in the fallopian tubes. Cells that detach from this cancerous mass can then spread to the abdominal cavity via the fluid in the abdomen. At this point, a patient’s survival rate is only 30%, even if the original tumor is removed.
The probability rises sharply to over 90 percent if it is caught in the early stages. However, this cancer is difficult to detect because there are very few reliable early biomarkers or symptoms.
“If we understand how ovarian cancer cells survive in the abdominal fluid when they spread in the abdominal cavity, we may be able to develop specific therapeutics and interventions to suppress the cancerous outgrowth of cells from the original tumor,” explains Schmelz.
“Our previous work has shown that the metabolism of cells has changed over the course of ovarian cancer. We wanted to build on that by looking inside the cells to see if there were any structural differences. By examining cells emerging from the Ovaries developed by mice, changes might be due to disease progression rather than differences between individuals, “added Schmelz.
The researchers used a variety of microscopy techniques to obtain 2D images and 3D models of the mitochondria and to identify and measure their structure at different stages of cancer.
Adapt to survive
“As ovarian cancer progressed, the mitochondria changed from a filamentous network to a highly fragmented one,” says Schmelz.
“This fragmentation, and known changes in the way the mitochondria work in this condition, causes cells to adapt to an environment that is low in nutrients and oxygen. It also allows cells to evade treatments commonly found in ovarian cancer patients applied so they can continue to multiply, “added Schmelz.
Virginia Tech’s Schmelz team hopes these results will form the basis of research to develop new therapies for this devastating disease.
“Future studies will find out how the changes we’ve seen in cells are regulated by isolating certain signaling pathways in the cells in order to create targets for therapies that limit the viability and spread of ovarian cancer cells,” added Schmelz. (ANI)
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