Microfluidic Technology Tracks Cancer Spread To The Brain

A recent study provided crucial insights into the mechanism mediating brain metastasis using state-of-the-art in-vitro microfluidic technology.  Options for therapy are limited when cancer spreads to the brain. Most drugs made to fight metastases either cannot penetrate the blood-brain barrier or are ineffective against brain metastases. According to the lead researcher, “understanding how cancer cells thrive or fail in the brain niche could help us develop new treatments targeting these molecular processes.”

Researchers followed the behavior of cancer cells as they moved and established themselves in the brain using microfluidic technology. They used two microfluidic chips to map cancer cell migration to the brain and examine what was occurring in the blood-brain niche to comprehend the molecular mechanisms affecting how cancer cells pass through the blood-brain barrier.

They discovered that Dkk-1, a cytokine produced by the astrocytes, causes the cancer cells to migrate using breast cancer cell lines. It is well known that Dkk-1 contributes to Wnt signaling, a crucial signaling pathway related to cancer development.

The blood-brain barrier can be breached by cancer cells due to crosstalk between brain niche cells and cancerous cells. According to the corresponding author, reducing Dkk-1 levels near invading tumor cells might disrupt this crosstalk and avoid brain metastases.

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