90% of cancer deaths happen because it spreads. Researchers found clue to stopping it

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University have found a clue to stopping cancer metastasis, the spreading of the disease responsible for 90 percent of cancer deaths.

A team led by Hasini Jayatilaka and Denis Wirtz discovered that a biochemical signaling process causes cancer cells to break away from an original tumor and spread to other areas of the body. The findings of their study were published in Nature Communications.

“We found that it was not the overall size of a primary tumor that caused cancer cells to spread, but how tightly those cells are jammed together when they break away from the tumor,” said Jayatilaka, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins’ Physical Sciences-Oncology Center. “At a fundamental level, we found that cell density is very important in triggering metastasis.”

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