Discovery on cross-talk among cancer cells hailed as best paper

sandersonUAB research demonstrating the role of heparanase in regulating exosomes has been selected among the “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 paper in the Glycobiology and Extracellular Matrices category.

A team led by Ralph D. Sanderson, Ph.D., UAB Endowed Professor of Cancer Pathobiology, revealed that heparanase, an enzyme associated with tumor growth and metastasis, increased secretion of exosomes — tiny particles released by cells that interact with other cells.

“This is a way in which tumor cells talk to each other,” said Sanderson, senior scientist in the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. More so, tumor cells rely on exosomes to communicate with their environment as they grow and spread.

“Our studies provide the first evidence that heparanase can regulate exosomes — promoting tumor-host cross-talk and enhancing aggressive tumor behavior,” Sanderson said.

The UAB team now is working to design and test new heparanase-inhibitors that will shut down exosome-mediated communication and tumor growth.

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