Cancer cells "send out envoys to prepare landing pads"

This was recently published in Nature and has now trickled down to general news: Scientists discover how cancer spreads: Disease sends bone marrow cells to prepare new tumor sites.

One of the things that makes cancer so deadly is its habit of starting new cancers throughout the body. For a long time, we visualized that as a cell just breaking off from a tumor and traveling through the bloodstream to stop at random wherever it stuck in another organ. Researchers in the United States have shown that, instead, the cancer sends out envoys to prepare the new site. The author of the study, Professor David Lyden of Cornell University in New York, writes:

“We are basically looking at all the earlier steps that are involved in metastasis that we weren’t previously aware of. It is complex…”

Patricia Steeg of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, comments:

“The authors show that tumor cells can mobilize normal bone marrow cells, causing them to migrate to particular regions and change the local environment so as to attract and support a developing metastasis.”

The article continues, “Cells at the site of the metastasis multiply and produce a protein called fibronectin, which acts like a glue to attract and trap the bone marrow cells to create a landing pad or nest for the cancer cells.”

Professor Lyden writes:

“These nests provide attachment factors for the tumor cells to implant and nurture them. It causes them not only to bind but to proliferate. Once that all takes place we have a fully formed metastatic site or secondary tumor.”

The envoys from the tumor determine the site of the secondary site… Without the landing pad, the cancerous cell could not colonize the organ.

I am waiting to hear some Creationist claim that this is clear evidence of the irreducible complexity of metastasis or of God’s intention to give people cancer. Perhaps we could call the envoys “apostlein.”

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