Institute of Dentistry - Barts and The London

New research finds virus-like particles that control mouth cancer

Muy-Teck Teh and colleagues from the Institute of Dentistry had research published this week in the journal Molecular Cancer: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12943-018-0846-5 which provides new insights into how cancer cells send out signals to control surrounding normal cells and metastasise.

In this Q&A, Dr. Teh explains the significance of the research and how it might lead to new non-invasive tests for mouth cancer.

16 August 2018

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Muy-Teck Teh and colleagues from the Institute of Dentistry had research published this week in the journal Molecular Cancer: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12943-018-0846-5 which provides new insights into how cancer cells send out signals to control surrounding normal cells and metastasise.

In this Q&A, Dr. Teh explains the significance of the research and how it might lead to new non-invasive tests for mouth cancer.

What is new about the study?

Exosomes are viral-like particles secreted by both normal and cancer cells. They carry information which could be exploited to develop new methods to diagnose and treat cancers.

We are the first to investigate mouth cancer exosomes in the aim to identify new types of cancer biomarkers which are present in saliva and blood samples.

How did you carry out the study?

The study was done using cultured human mouth cells. Exosomes were purified from cell culture growth medium. Healthy mouth cells were then exposed to either normal or cancer exosomes.

Following exposure, the normal mouth cells were then subjected to gene-chip microarray to compare gene expression differences as a result of exposure to normal and cancer exosomes.

Is there anything surprising about the results?

This study identify for the first time that cancer exosomes is capable of changing the normal genetic networks in normal cells. We have identified markers involved in immune/inflammation and tissue remodelling.

These are mechanisms exploited by cancer cells for facilitating metastasis. 

Why is the study important?

Our findings provided a new insight into how cancer cells send out signals to control surrounding normal cells so that cancer cells can metastasise. The study may lead to further understanding on how these mechanisms could be halted to prevent cancer metastasis.

Markers identified in our study may also lead to new non-invasive mouth cancer test that requires only saliva or blood samples.

More information

Research paper: ‘Transcriptome Reprogramming by Cancer Exosomes: Identification of Novel Molecular Targets in Matrix and Immune Modulation’. Fatima Qadir; Mohammad Arshad Aziz; Chrisdina Puspita Sari; Hong Ma, Haiyan Dai, Xun Wang; Dhiresh Raithatha; Lucas Girotto Lagreca Da Silva; Muhammad Hussain; Seyedeh P. Poorkasreiy; Iain L. Hutchison; Ahmad Waseem and Muy-Teck The. Molecular Cancer  https://doi.org/10.1186/s12943-018-0846-5