Model devised to study spread of breast cancer
Researchers of two premier research institutes in India have collaborated to devise an experimental model for studying a medical complication — the spread of breast cancer cells to other parts of the body through blood. A team of researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology-Guwahati (IIT-G) and the Bengaluru-based Indian Institute of Science (IISc) collaborated for the project to “bridge the gap in understanding and works towards unravelling the mechanisms involved in the growth and spread of breast cancer”.

The team, led by IIT-G’s Siddhartha Sankar Ghosh and Gautam Biswas and IISc’s Mohit Kumar Jolly, comprised IIT-G’s Amaresh Dalal, research fellow Binita Nath, and research scholars Anil Bidkar and Vikash Kumar. Their work was published in the latest edition of the Journal of Clinical Medicine published from Switzerland.

“Our bodies are made up of billions of cells of various types and various types of cancers start from different types of cells, and breast cancer starts in epithelial cells,” he added. Epithelial cells are found in skin and as lining for all organs inside the body as well as body parts such as the breast and the insides of the chest cavity.

It has been known that cancer cells migrate from their point of origin to other parts of the body by transforming into other types of cells such as mesenchymal causing secondary cancer, the researchers said. The experimental model, Dr. Biswas explained, was designed to mimic broken membranes through which cancer cells find their way into the blood stream.

“Epithelial-to-mesenchymal (EMT) transition is known to be an important factor in cancer spread, but how the converted cells travel to the blood vessels and undergo reverse transition at the secondary sites has hitherto not been completely understood. Our effort was to understand this through the model,” he said.

“Our work is seminal in the area of cancer metastasis in that it explains the flow dynamics of the breast cancer cells and presents a vivid picture of EMT movement,” Prof Ghosh said.