Leader of the pack
The capacity of cancer cells to spread throughout the body and invade new tissues—to become metastatic—makes them deadly.
But what makes metastatic cells different? Scientists at Winship Cancer Institute have developed a technique for isolating individual cells that display invasive behavior by changing their color.
In different patients’ tumors, or even in a single tumor, not all cells are the same. Some may divide or migrate more rapidly than others. A few cells might survive chemotherapy that kills the rest. A technique developed by Emory cell biologist Adam Marcus and graduate student Jessica Konen can highlight the behavior of these “leader” cells, which migrate faster than their neighbors, by labeling them a fluorescent red.
This allows researchers to ask questions such as: Are “leader” cells always leaders? Is this ability connected with changes in the cell’s DNA? Do leader cells and follower cells need each other to cause metastatic disease? The answers may lead to new treatments that hamper metastasis.
Video by Damon Meharg and Quinn Eastman of Health Sciences Communications, with direction by Patricia Haugaard of the School of Medicine.
The award-winning video:
"Cancer metastasis video wins AAMC top prize" (11/9/2015)