Cancer Cells Need Fat To Spread.

In a breakthrough, scientists have discovered that cancer cells move round the body using ‘roads’ made from fat in the lymphatic system. It’s thought that if we can switch off the cells ability to eat these fatty acids then it might be possible to stop cancers from spreading.

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are currently used to treat many cancers but the majority of deaths occur when the cancer spreads.

Scientists from The Flanders Institute for Biotechnology found that cancer cells transport along the lymphatic system feeding on fat – because the lymphatic system contains more fatty acids, compared to blood vessels.

The researchers investigated how lymphatics develop and found that they ‘transform’ from blood vessels during embryonic development. 

Dr Brian Wong said: 

‘Our study shows that the usage of fat by lymphatics is programmed in their development, and required for their growth and function. We have demonstrated by enhancing or preventing the usage of fat (or fat by-products), we can control the growth of lymphatics.’

Future research will test fat usage inhibitors for their ability to reduce metastasis in different types of cancer.

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