"This research shows for the first time how lung cancer cells sever ties with their neighbours and start to spread around the body, by hijacking the cells' recycling process and sending it into overdrive," said lead researcher Angeliki Malliri from Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute at University of Manchester.
Ties which bind cells together - controlled by a protein called TIAM1 - are chopped up when cell maintenance work goes wrong, the findings showed. Healthy cells routinely scrap old cell parts so they can be broken down and used again. But this process spirals out of control in lung cancer cells, which scrap too many TIAM1 ties.
Targeting this recycling process could stop lung cancer from spreading by keeping the cells stuck firmly together."Early-stage research like this is essential to find treatments which could one day block cancer spread - which would be a game changer," Nell Barrie from Cancer Research UK said. The study was published in the journal Cell Reports.