Latest research confirms the idea of diabetes increasing the risk of metastasis in patients diagnosed with cancer. The research was undertaken by a team from the Cornell University in Ithaca, NY wherein possible mechanisms essential to establishing a connection between metastatic cancer and diabetes was investigated. Study author Prof. Mingming Wu said that a factor that played a significant role in the metastasis and which was hitherto missed out was the biological environment of the cancer patient and diabetes was one condition which enhanced the spread of cancer cells.
Diabetes facilitated the motility of cancer cells through the extracellular matrix which was fundamental to their growth. The matrix was composed of varied macromolecules including glycoproteins and collagen. Diabetes in cancer patients modified the collagen fibers by a process termed as ‘glycation’. Glycation was an outcome of interaction between proteins and sugars or other biological compounds. The researchers evaluated this mechanism by analyzing the progress of breast cancer cells in environments with varying glycation levels.
Their findings revealed that environments with high glycation facilitated the movement of cancer cells from the site of origin to areas much farther away and also at increased speeds. The research team disclosed that the breast cancer cells displayed higher average speeds in each of the three collagen environments used by them when there was glycation. This confirmed the idea of glycation being a factor that promoted the metastasizing rate.
Diabetes did generate an environment in the cancer patient’s body that was conducive to metastasis. The researchers aimed at undertaking further studies which would differentiate between the chemical and mechanical effects of glycation on the metastasis process.
Researchers stated that more work was required to explain the biochemical effect of glycation in cancer cell invasion. The findings of the study were printed in the journal, ‘Integrative Biology’.