VHIO scientists reveal novel drug-target to strangle sleeping cancer cells

IMAGE: This is Héctor G. Palmer Principal Investigator, VHIO’s Stem Cells & Cancer Group. view more 

Credit: Katherin Wermke

Latest discovery promises new weaponry against dormant tumor cells to counteract resistance and prevent disease relapse. Findings show epigenetic enzyme TET2 as an orchestrator of the control and survival of these cells as promoters of cancer recurrence. TET2 inhibition proposed as an effective approach to prevent their seeding of metastasis. Novel biomarker identified for DTC detection and to more precisely predict those patients at risk of recurrence.

Research spearhead by first author Isabel Puig, Post-Doctoral Fellow of the Vall d´Hebron Institute of Oncology’s (VHIO) Stem Cells & Cancer Group, directed by Principal Investigator Héctor G. Palmer, has culminated in the discovery of a biomarker to identify dormant tumor cells (DTC), also known as slow-cycling cancer cells (SCCC), that, in their sleepy and silent state, go undetected by current treatments that have mostly been designed to target rapidly dividing tumor cells.

Having travelled undetected and settled in other parts of the body, when these DTC awake – the alarm clock trigger yet unknown – they behave like cancer stem cells, regenerate the original tumor and drive metastatic cell spread in patients


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