Did you know that not all cancer cells are equally aggressive. Researchers from The Lund University, located in Sweden, have discovered that some cancer cells can accumulate fat droplets, which appear to make them more aggressive and increase their ability to spread. A cancer tumor interior is a hostile environment with oxygen deficiency, low pH levels and lack of nutrients.
Those that manage to survive in this environment are called “stressed cells” and considered to be more aggressive.
A research group headed by Profession Mattia Belting recently published an article about a possible way to deliver chemotherapy drugs into these cells. Another research track that they have been pursing for several years report new findings concerning the similarities between stressed cells and fat cells.
Stressed cells go into a resting phase in order to survive inside the tumor. They can still accumulate fat droplets but then become inaccessible to radiation and chemotherapy. A very small percentage of the cancer cells that enter the blood stream are capable of forming metastases. It is believed that it is the cancer cells that are similar to fat cells that are most capable of forming metastases. Either fat deposits for energy can be used to build their cell membranes or to manufacture signal substances. They can also do all of this at the same time.
The new information can be used to fight the spread of cancer cells, which is the cause of most cancer-related deaths. After learning more about how the stressed cells accumulate fat reserves, they can be prevented from acquiring this additional energy. Several clinical studies investigating the effect of heparin against cancer are already underway.
Heparin, a known anti-thrombotic drug may have this effect. Not only does it have the capacity to dissolve blood clots, but it can also reduce cancer cells’ uptake of fat particles.
There is an article published in Cancer Research, that has pictures from patient samples that show cancer cells similar to fat cells which are located in those parts of a tumor where there is oxygen deficiency, where the cells are stressed. Also, the connection between fat and cancer is consistent with the fact that obesity involves an increased risk of developing certain types of cancer. Persons who are obese have more fat particles in their blood that could become accessible to the stressed cancer cell. Those tumors in obese patients can be more aggressive.
-Dr Fredda Branyon