Scientists from the Laboratory of Oncovirology of the Research Institute of Oncology of the Tomsk NRMC found out what causes the development of metastases after patients undergo chemotherapy. This was reported to RT by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation. The scientific work was carried out with the support of the department within the framework of project No. 075-15-2021-1073. The results are published in the journal Cancers.

The authors of the work in the course of an early clinical study noticed that among breast cancer patients who underwent chemotherapy, metastasis (the process of formation of secondary foci of tumor growth) occurred only in a certain group of patients.

Scientists suspected that the occurrence of metastases in some patients may be due to the malfunction of the intracellular signaling system Wnt. The Wnt pathway is one of the most important molecular signaling pathways that regulates embryonic development and cell division, and also plays a role in the development of malignant tumors. The researchers suggested that the metastases arose as a result of uncontrolled activity of Wnt signals, which was caused by a mutation in the genes responsible for the functioning of the signaling system.

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The conjecture was confirmed during laboratory experiments on cell cultures. It turned out that it was the disturbances in the Wnt signaling system that became one of the reasons for the spontaneous release of tumor cells from post-chemotherapy shock and the formation of metastases.

The study in the future is of great practical importance: in patients who have undergone therapy, it will be possible to monitor the status of the Wnt system using special tests. This will predict the risk of metastases. If it is high, then the patient should be prescribed a longer treatment after therapy. For those patients whose tests show a low risk of metastases, the course of chemotherapy can be shortened.

The authors note that additional clinical studies are to be conducted to confirm the applicability of the method in practice.

"In addition, drugs that suppress the Wnt pathway can be developed, which will significantly reduce the risk of metastasis after treatment," said Nikolai Litvyakov, Doctor of Biological Sciences, Head of the Laboratory of Oncovirology at the Research Institute of Oncology of the Tomsk NRMC, Professor of the Russian Academy of Sciences, in an interview with RT.

Recall that metastases are one of the main causes of death from cancer. It is almost impossible to remove them, especially if they are multiple. As they grow, they incapacitate organs. Therefore, preventing the appearance of metastases is one of the main tasks of oncologists around the world.