In their latest publication, a team of researchers with the University of California, Riverside and the University of Notre Dame have revealed a new explanation for how ovarian cancer spreads (or metastasizes). The researchers used electron microscopy and live imaging to study the cellular activities that are associated with successful metastasis. As a primary ovarian tumor metastasis, it sheds both single cells and clusters of cells, which are called multicellular aggregates (MCAs) into the pelvis and abdomen. One of these activities is the expression of a group of proteins, which are called cadherins. Cadherins help cells to bind together and since they also enable cancer cells to anchor to new sites within the body, it may actually be possible to disrupt the metastasis if researchers can block the cadherin-mediated binding (UC Riverside, 2017).

Mark Alber, a distinguished professor of applied mathematics at the University of California, Riverside, and M. Sharon Stack, a Kleiderer-Pezold professor of biochemistry and director of Notre Dame Harper Cancer Research Institute, led the research program.

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