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Collaborative Success Stories: Pulling Out the Stops


Collaborative Success Stories: Pulling Out the Stops

University of Missouri researchers are working to stop cancer cells from spreading.

Cancer is always dangerous, but it becomes truly life-threatening when cancer cells begin to metastasize, or spread throughout the body. Now, oncology researchers Dr. Senthil Kumar and Dr. Jeffrey Bryan have uncovered a way to stop metastasis.

The answer lies in bacteria. Generally, during an infection, bacteria release molecules to communicate with one another. Different molecules have different messages, including a command to stop spreading. The scientists cultured human pancreatic cancer cells and treated them with a “stop spreading” molecule. The cancer cells not only stopped spreading, but began to die as well.

“We used pancreatic cancer cells because those are the most robust, aggressive and hard-to-kill cancer cells that can occur in the human body,” says Kumar. “To show that this molecule can not only stop the cancer cells from spreading, but actually cause them to die, is very exciting.” The researchers are working to fine tune their methods before moving on to animal and human trials.

Dr. Senthil Kumar is an assistant research professor of veterinary medicine and surgery, and Dr. Jeffrey Bryan is an associate professor of medical oncology. Both have appointments in the College of Veterinary Medicine.

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Related Initiative(s):
One Health/One Medicine