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Cancer Cells Eat their Own membranes

Cancer does trickery to thrive in the human body, and scientists in Denmark have just uncovered a new trick. The researchers found that Cancer Cells use a technique seen in other cell types that involves patching up injured membranes and consuming the damaged materials, which presents some promising opportunities to intervene and kill them off.

The study was conducted by cancer researchers at the University of Copenhagen, who focused their attention on the membranes that play an important role in containing and protecting the contents of cells, cancerous or otherwise. A rupture to this membrane can cause the fluid inside to escape and cause the cell to die.When cells incur these types of injuries to their membranes, one of the techniques they use to repair the damage is what’s known as macropinocytosis. This sees the cells cover the damaged area with an intact section of membrane, sealing away the hole in mere minutes. The damaged part of the membrane is busted apart into small spheres that are passed along to the cell’s lysosomes, which act as the stomach to break them down.

The researchers were studying Cancer Cells in the lab, and blasted them with a laser to shoot small holes in their membranes. The team found that this triggered macropinocytosis, and also discovered that they could interfere in the process with substances that block the formation of the small spheres. This prevents the digestion process, stops the cells from repairing themselves and causes them to die.

Jesper Nylandsted, the spearhead of the study said that the research provides very basic knowledge about the way the cells survive. In experiments, they have shown that Cancer Cells die if the process is inhibited, and this points towards macropinocytosis as a target for future treatment. It is a long-term perspective, but it is interesting.

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