Prof Identifies Protein Key to Spread of Cancer Cells

A U of G researcher has learned that suppressing a protein called cadherin-22 could prevent cancer from migrating throughout the body.

Prof. Jim Uniacke and his research team in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology found that cadherin-22 is produced by cancer cells under hypoxia, or low oxygen conditions.

While hypoxia harms normal tissue, it can cause cancer tissue to thrive.

“We found that the more hypoxic a tumour was, the more cadherin-22 there was in the area of the hypoxia,” Uniacke said. “Not only that, but the more cadherin-22 that there is in a tumour, the more advanced the cancer stage and the worse the prognosis is for the patient.”

After researchers removed the protein from cancer cells, the cells were largely unable to adhere and spread.