To improve survival, cancer cells can devour their own kind.

Cancer cells are extremely insidious. Not only are they able to "get used" to the drugs and methods used for treatment, they can also (unfortunately, very often) reappear after a seemingly complete recovery of the patient. This mechanism is called “relapse," and as part of the study of this process, a group of researchers from the USA came to unexpected conclusions: cancer cells have the ability to devour their own kind and thereby become stronger.

Cancer cells adapt very well to any treatment.

Why do cancer cells destroy their "brothers"?

According to the editors of the Journal of CellBiology, scientists from the School of Medicine at Tulane University of Louisiana, made their discovery through the study of LCC cells (Latent Cancer Cells). This type of tumor cell is sometimes called "dormant." That is, they do not participate in the formation of the tumor, almost do not divide and do not manifest themselves in order for the immune system to “pay attention” to them. Unfortunately, because of this, LLC cells are also insensitive to chemotherapy.

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The researchers decided to find out whydormant cells survive and where do they get energy for these processes. To do this, the experts took breast cancer cells and injected the antitumor drug doxirubicin into them. The principle of its action is quite simple: it destroys cellular DNA and inhibits the synthesis of nucleic acids. Because of this, the cell loses the ability to divide, carry out metabolic processes, and ultimately die. At the same time, some of the cells that the drug cannot be destroyed, just become LLC cells. And they, in turn, are "waiting in the wings."

Not so long ago we wrote about another study,associated with the development of cancer treatments. In order not to miss such news, we recommend subscribing to our channel in Telegram. In the course of new studies, scientists noticed that the resulting LCC cells were not completely inactive. The number of lysosomes increased in them (they are responsible for metabolism and energy), and a number of genes were activated for the development of phagocytosis. Phagocytosis is the process of absorption by one cell of another cell. It is very actively used by cells of our immunity to, for example, fight bacteria and the same tumor formations. But that's not all: LCC cells after exposure to an antitumor drug began to actively absorb neighboring tumor cells, which Doxirubicin did not have time to act on. This process was even able to be captured on the video, available below.

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Experts concluded that this behavior givesLLC cells need the supply of substances for a rather long unnoticed existence and return to the active phase in the future. At the same time, cells emerging from the "sleep mode" subsequently become more resistant to the action of chemotherapeutic drugs. Scientists believe that if it is possible to find an opportunity to deprive LLC cells of a newly discovered property, this will improve the survival of patients who underwent chemotherapy. In addition, the researchers hope that they will be able to understand how LLC cells themselves could be destroyed to prevent further cancer relapses.