"For me, as a molecular cell biologist, it is very exciting to now be able to analyse and understand such complex tissues in detail"
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Prof. Maurice, Oncode Institute, UMC Utrecht, University Utrecht, Isogenica (UK) and Attana (Sweden), recently published a study in Nature Communications, where antibodies that block cell-to-cell communication was identified.
“Many tumors have errors in their Wnt signaling pathway due to mutations. Currently, clinical trials are ongoing that block the function of all 19 Wnt genes that are present in the human body. Due to the importance of Wnt signals in tissue maintenance, with this approach the risk of side effects for multiple tissues is very high. We hope it will be more efficient to instead only block those Wnts to which the cancer cell is addicted. We have focused on a subset of cancers where something is wrong with the receptors that capture the Wnt signals at the cell surface. Due to mutations these cancer cells accumulate too many receptors on their surface. As a result, the signaling mediated by these receptors is too strong and drives the growth of the tumor. We developed a strategy to block the binding of Wnts to these receptors with antibodies. When we add these antibodies to our preclinical tumor cultures, the cancer stem cell properties dissappear and the tumor cells stop growing.” says Prof. Maurice.
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