New tumor acidy discovery could lead to better cancer treatments. Researchers have revealed new information about cancer’s invasiveness by examining tumor acidity.
Their analysis found that acidic, or low-pH tumor regions help cancer spread by making tumors more aggressive.
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge have explained how a reduction in tumor acidity help to reverse the process in mice. They have published their study in the journal Cancer Research.
“Tumor acidosis gives rise to the expression of molecules involved in cell invasion and migration,” says first study author Nazanin Rohani Ph.D. “This reprogramming, which is an intracellular response to a drop in extracellular pH, gives the cancer cells the ability to survive under low-pH conditions and proliferate.”
For the study, the team used a “pH-probe.” The pH-probe inserts a small protein molecule into the membrane of a cell in an acidic environment. The process helped the researchers to detect cells in acidic regions of the tumors.
The researchers discovered microenvironment acidity at the tumor surface. Then, in the second phase, they found that the reduction of this acidity forced the gene expressions to turn back to normal.
They added sodium bicarbonate into the drinking water of the mice to reduce their tumor acidity. Senior study author Frank B. Gertler said that the human body doesn’t support sodium bicarbonate, so it can’t be added to potential treatment.
“Other methods that would more focally target acidification could be of great value,” Prof. Frank B. Gertler said.