Bio & Medicine

A new study sheds light on how cancer travels to the brain.

Treatment options are limited when cancer spreads to the brain. The majority of drugs created to treat metastases either cannot cross the blood-brain barrier or are ineffective when treating brain metastases.

In order to create new treatments that target these molecular processes, Sofia Merajver, M.D., said that it would be helpful to understand how cancer cells succeed or fail in the brain niche. , Ph. D. at the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center, the Greater Good Breast Cancer Research Professor.

Merajver and colleagues used two microfluidic chips to map cancer cell migration to the brain and examine what was happening in the blood-brain niche in order to comprehend the molecular mechanisms that affect how cancer cells pass through the blood-brain barrier. The journal Advanced NanoBiomed Research publishes the results.

“Understanding how cancer cells thrive or fail in the brain niche could help us create new medicines that target these molecular pathways,”

Sofia Merajver, M.D., Ph.D.,

They discovered that Dkk-1, an astrocyte-released cytokine, causes the migration of cancer cells using breast cancer cell lines. It is well known that Dkk-1 contributes to Wnt signaling, a crucial signaling pathway connected to the development of cancer.

Credit: University of Michigan

Invading cancer cells can pass through the blood-brain barrier thanks to a crosstalk between brain niche cells and cancer cells. According to co-author Christopher R. Oliver, Ph.D., lowering Dkk-1 levels in close proximity to tumor invasion could stop brain metastases. D. the Merajver Lab’s post-doctoral fellow.

More information: Trisha M. Westerhof et al, Blood–Brain Barrier Remodeling in an Organ‐on‐a‐Chip Device Showing Dkk1 to be a Regulator of Early Metastasis, Advanced NanoBiomed Research (2023). DOI: 10.1002/anbr.202200036

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