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Breaking the 'legs' of cancer cells

28 June 2017 09:12

Cancer cells

Cancer cells

Scientists hope to halt the spread of cancer to vital organs by debilitating the 'legs' that carry tumour cells around the body.

These leg-like protrusions are called filopodia.

Game-changing breakthrough?

By targeting them, researchers believe they have unearthed a game-changer in the battle against metastasis - the spread of cancer from its original site to other parts of a patient's body.

The team based at the Georgia Institute of Technology used tiny gold rods to tackle the filopodia. The heated rods 'mangled' the legs of the cancer cells and also prevented new ones from growing.

People who have suffered from cancer can arrange specialist medical travel insurance if travelling overseas.

What the experts say

Researcher Yue Wu, a graduate student in bioanalytical chemistry at the institute, said: "All these lamellipodia and filopodia give the cancer cells legs. The metastasis requires those protrusions, so the cells can travel."

Professor Mostafa El-Sayed added: "The method appears to be very effective as a locally administered treatment that ... protects the body from cancer's spread away from the treated tumours, and it is also very mild, so it can be applied many times over if needed."

The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.