A Trick that Helps Horses and Cattle Avoid Metastatic Cancer


Researchers find connective tissue has a crucial role to play in whether cancer cells metastasize.

ABOVE:  Cow trophoblasts (green) invade a layer of human stromal cells (black), which may also be susceptible to metastasizing cancer cells.
KSHITIZ ET AL., NAT ECOL EVOL

EDITOR’S CHOICE IN CANCER BIOLOGY

The paper
Kshitiz et al., “Evolution of placental invasion and cancer metastasis are causally linked,” Nat Ecol Evol, 3:1743–53, 2019.

The study was conceived like a cliché joke: an evolutionary biologist, a cell-signaling specialist, and a cancer researcher walk into a happy hour at Yale University. The conversation turned to mammalian tumors, and how it was common to see horses in Austria and cows in India with prominent tumors that rarely killed the animals.

It turns out that horses and cows have something else in common. “Interestingly, in the same animals, the pregnancy is very different from human pregnancy,” says the University of Connecticut Health Center’s Kshitiz, the cancer researcher, who uses a single name. Placental cells in ungulates don’t burrow into the uterine lining early in pregnancy as they do in apes and many other mammals….

Source: A Trick that Helps Horses and Cattle Avoid Metastatic Cancer

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