Decoding cancerous cells in metastasis  - UNIMEDIOS: Universidad Nacional de Colombia
Escudo de la República de Colombia

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Decoding cancerous cells in metastasis

Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) alum Dr. Manuel Patarroyo Murillo, Professor of Adherence Biology and one of 300 full professors at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden is a world leader in cancer cell dynamics research.

Bogotá D. C., 22 de julio de 2016Agencia de Noticias UN-

Manuel Patarroyo Murillo, UNal physician, has been living and carrying out research in Sweden for 37 years.

Laminins are a group of macromolecules which have an important role in cellular development and differentiation.

Metastasis is responsible for 9 out of 10 deaths produced by cancer.

Developing vaccines or antimicrobial treatments is also one of the priorities of world science for cancer prevention.

Manuel Patarroyo Murillo and Manuel Elkin Patarroyo Murillo, UNal alums are also renowned scientists.

Patarroyo has 125 international publications in scientific journals such as The Lancet, Cancer Research, Leukemia & Lymphoma, Immunology Review, Cancer Immunology Immunotherapy and Journal of Experimental Medicine. He also carries out research on the molecular bases for tumor metastasis. 

“Cancer spreading occurs when a diseased cell takes over healthy cells to create more blood vessels with the purpose of using nutrients that are destined for other purposes,” he said. 

Patarroyo’s research, recently recognized by UNal as one of its most exemplifying alums in the category of “High international relevance”, is directed to developing new drugs to inhibit metastasis, based on the knowledge of how this mechanism works. 

A group is scientists headed by Patarroyo is currently researching the interaction of tumor cells with the environment in different tissues and organs, particularly a group of macromolecules known as laminins, which play an important role in cell development and differentiation. They are also capable of stimulating cell adhesion and migration as well as gene expression. 

One of the most recent discoveries is the important role of laminins produced by cancerous cells in adhesion, migration, proliferation, survival and immatureness, the latter, referring to tumor progression and how cancer cells lose their maturity. 

Tissue architecture 

When cells adhere to others they form an extracellular matrix (molecule network around cells). This interaction determines the formation of tissues and organs. 

Laminins are a group of extracellular matrix molecules, particularly of a type known as basal membranes, a tier of molecules which separates different tissue compartments. Therefore they are responsible for tissue architecture and engineering. Furthermore they also define when the “structure” is normal or distorted. 

For instance, “A disturbance in colon tissue makes some tumor cells move to other organs (such as the liver), producing metastasis from the colon to the liver. Therefore the architecture is lost because the liver is not supposed to have colon cells. Additionally laminins also aid in cancer cell migration, helping tumor invasion, therefore anticancer drugs are ineffective,” said Patarroyo, a Medical Sciences PhD with an emphasis on Tumor Biology. 

Cancer vaccine 

Additionally to the progress in the study on laminins, Patarroyo is also an advisor to a European Union research project which hopes to develop vaccines against cancer and other types of virus. 

According to the researcher, scientific literature has proven that a considerable amount (close of 30%) of the tumors in human beings are induced by microorganisms, including viruses. A typical case is the link between liver carcinoma and the hepatitis virus. However this is not isolated. 

The papilloma virus is associated to cervical cancer and there are strong links between stomach cancer and Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium which causes ulcers. 

“Developing vaccines or antimicrobial treatments is also one of the priorities of world science for cancer prevention,” said Patarroyo one of 11 children of Julia Murillo and Manuel Patarroyo, parents to two of the most renown Colombian scientists in the world, Oncologist Manuel and Physician Manuel Elkin, creator of the malaria vaccine. 

Read the article in its entirety in Spanish at UN Periódico.

(Por: Fin/HVC/DMH/APBL
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N.° 141

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