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Neurons Support Cancer Growth throughout the Body

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Cancer cells rely on the healthy cells that surround them for sustenance. Tumors reroute blood vessels to nourish themselves, secrete chemicals that scramble immune responses, and, according to recent studies, even recruit and manipulate neurons for their own gain. This pattern holds true not just for brain cancers, but also for prostate cancer, skin cancer, pancreatic cancer, and stomach cancer. Stanford neuroscientists review how tumors exploit neuronal signals February 13 in Trends in Cancer.

“There is no part of the body that isn’t well innervated,” says Michelle Monje (@michelle_monje) of the Stanford University School of Medicine, who co-authored the article with PhD candidate Humsa Venkatesh. “The nervous system is an extremely arborized tree that reaches every aspect of every tissue and contributes importantly to tissue development. Those growth signals are already there, so why shouldn’t cancer cells co-opt them?” Read more . . .

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