The development of new cancer therapy is based on the discovery of new characteristics and weaknesses of cancer cells. A group of Danish researchers found another characteristic of cancer cells through experiments on cancer cell membranes, that is, cancer cells constantly repair their own cell membranes.

Cancer cells eat part of their membranes to survive in certain conditions, which was discovered by a group of researchers from Denmark for the first time.

In this study, a team led by Jesper Nylandsted from the Danish Cancer Society Research Center and the University of Copenhagen studied cancer cells from another perspective, who focused on cell membranes and found that cancer cells repair their damage by swallowing their own cell membranes. If cancer cells do not feed themselves in this way, the damage and threats they suffer may cause cell death. This conclusion was published in Science Advances with the title "Restructuring of the plasma membrane upon damage by LC3-associated macropinocytosis".

Whether it is an ordinary cell or a cancer cell, the membrane is the outer skin that plays an important role in coating and protecting the entire cell. Therefore, the damage of the membrane may endanger cell life in that the inside of the cell is in a fluid state, so when a hole appears in the membrane, the cell will leakage and die—just like when a balloon filled with water breaks, the water flows out, and then the balloon breaks completely.

Therefore, when the cell membrane is damaged, it must be repaired quickly. The Danish research team showed that cancer cells use a method called endocytosis when they repair themselves. The cancer cell "pulls" the intact cell membrane to the damaged area and quickly "seals" the hole in just a few minutes. Next, the damaged part of the cell membrane divides into small spheres, which are transported to the lysosome of the cell, where they are broken down.

In this study, researchers used lasers to destroy the membranes of cancer cells, which then triggered endocytosis. They believe that if the formation of small spheres in the cell membrane is inhibited by certain substances, the cancer cells will no longer be able to repair the membrane damage and will die.

"Our research provides very basic knowledge support for the theory of how cancer cells survive when they are injured. In our experiments, we also found that if the formation of small spheres is blocked, cancer cells cannot repair the cell membrane and die. This laid the foundation for future endocytosis treatment methods." Jesper Nylandsted said.

This study also reminds us of the significance of cell membrane in cancer research that it not only provides crucial therapeutic targets for immunotherapies (cell membrane proteins: http://www.creative-biolabs.com/Membrane-Protein-Service.html) but also manipulates the survival and repair of cancer cells.

One of the most vicious characters of cancer is the spread of cancer cells in the body. If the tumor grows in a new part of the body, it becomes more difficult to treat and usually requires a more extensive form of treatment.

When cancer cells spread among human tissues, their membranes are particularly vulnerable to damage. Many experiments showed that especially aggressive cancer cells use endocytosis. This may be because the damaged part of the membrane can be used by cancer cells again after being degraded in the lysosome. This cyclical function is of great significance to cancer cells because they divide frequently and often require a lot of energy and materials for new cells to survive.

This team will continue to explore how cancer cells protect their cell membranes. Especially with regard to the method of endocytosis, what will happen after the cell membrane is closed, and what changes will there be.

In the process of scientific research on the various characteristics of cancer, any important new discovery and understanding of the characteristics of cancer cells is very likely to bring new approaches.

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