A group of researchers from the University of Iowa studied how cells move around the body. According to them, in the future with its help it will be possible to control the spread of cancerous tumors. The details were published in the eLife magazine.

As a result of experiments, scientists have found that cells can move around by controlling their rigidity. The protein myosin helps them in this. It, in turn, is activated by the protein fascin, which is able to regulate the hardness of both the cell itself and those around it. In the course of the study, it turned out that when the level of fascin is low, myosin activity increases, due to which the cell becomes stiffer and slower. When the level of fascin returns to normal, the action of myosin decreases, making it more mobile.

The movement of cells in the body occurs constantly. They need to replace damaged tissues and organs. Without cell motility, the division process – cytokinesis – is also impossible. Cancer cells also move through the blood and lymph vessels, forming metastases.

According to Tina Tuttle, assistant professor of anatomy and cell biology at the University of Iowa, studying the mechanism of cell movement will help to create new methods of fighting cancer.

“If cancer cells use the same principles of movement that we found in our study, then it is possible to reduce the rate at which the cells spread by altering the tissues so that they do not harden upon contact with them,” she said.