April 30, 2014

UAB paper examining how tumor cells “talk to each other” hailed a “Best of 2013”
The Journal of Biological Chemistry recognizes UAB scientists’ paper on exosomes, particles that change the behavior of cells, while the research team examines shutting down tumor growth.

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sandersonUniversity of Alabama at Birmingham research paper on exosomes has been selected as a “Best of 2013” by The Journal of Biological Chemistry.  

The paper, Heparanase Regulates Secretion, Composition, and Function of Tumor Cell-derived Exosomes, was chosen as the best in the Glycobiology and Extracellular Matrices category. The “Best of” papers were selected from the thousands published by the JBC last year.

A team led by Ralph D. Sanderson, Ph.D., UAB Endowed Professor of Cancer Pathobiology in the Department of Pathology and a senior scientist at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, demonstrated that heparanase, an enzyme associated with tumor growth and metastasis, increased the secretion of exosomes. Exosomes are tiny particles released by cells that can interact with other cells and change the behavior of these cells.

“In other words, this is a way in which tumor cells talk to each other,” Sanderson said.   

Tumor cells rely on exosomes to communicate with their environment, especially as they become more aggressive in their growth and spread.  

“Our studies provide the first evidence that heparanase can regulate exosomes, thereby promoting tumor-host cross-talk and enhancing aggressive tumor behavior,” Sanderson said.  Efforts are underway in the Sanderson lab to design and test new heparanase inhibitors that will block heparanase activity, thereby shutting down exosome-mediated communication and tumor growth.
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