German researchers have created a new mouse model to study the spread of cancer.
The aim of the GM model was to understand the role of the lymphatic vessels - thin-walled vessels structured like blood vessels - in the spread of cancer cells.
The team, from the German Cancer Research Center and the University of Heidelberg, observed that cancer cells often migrate via lymph vessels into nearby lymph nodes and from there to spread to vital organs.
The results, published in the journal Cancer Discovery, found that an antibody that causes the lymphatic vessels in the cancer to die, suppresses the spread of cancer cells, and prolongs the survival of the animals.
"We have only been able to show that angiopoietin-2 blockade has a therapeutic effect within this treatment window in experimental animals. Whether this approach also helps in humans against the spread of tumours must be clarified in further investigations," said Hellmut Augustin, head of the study.