Cells Need Their Space

Healthy cells have a healthy respect for privacy. That’s the latest findings from the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah. Researchers at the Institute found that, like many people, cells don’t like crowds.

This discovery could help fight the various varieties of cancer. In all cancers, cells shed their need for space and crowd together, growing uncontrollably and creating tumors.

Normally when cells in the epithelium, the outer and inner surface of the body where most cancers originate, get too close together, some are ejected to make more room. This occurs even to cells that haven’t undergone cell death.

Cancer grows by accumulating cells while not allowing any to die. If, as scientists believe, they are nonetheless vulnerable to extrusion, that could suggest an entirely new approach to curing cancer. Researchers aren’t yet sure why the normal extrusion method doesn’t work in tumors, or how best to induce it without disrupting healthy cells.

The research also revealed more about how cell death itself works, Dead cells must be immediately replaced. It was discovered that as they die, cells send out an alert so that gaps won’t form. Learning the mechanism behind that could also allow for better treatments for certain illnesses, such as colitis.

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