In a recent study published in the journal Cell Reports researchers reported that they successfully performed the first ever block of tumor cells migrating to other sites. They were able to pinpoint a family of pharmaceutical compounds whose action prevents the appearance of tumor metastasis by studying the mitochondria in tumor cells. These organelles are considered to be the cells power station. But when their functioning is altered in tumor cells the researchers observed that the mitochondria can promote cell migration that leads to the formation of metastasis.
The researchers examined the molecular mechanism responsible for the mitochondria’s ability to promote metastasis and succeeded in showing that under certain conditions, the mitochondria produce more free radicals known as super-oxide ions and this overpopulation of super-oxides leads to the formation of metastasis and consequently, the growth of a tumor. The production of super-oxides by the mitochondria can be blocked by very specific antioxidants such as MitoTEMPO. When used in models of marine and human tumors, these compounds turned out to be very effective at blocking the migration of tumor cells and preventing spontaneous formation of human tumor metastasis in mice. A clinical study is planned to validate these findings.