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Cancer Cells Roundup

February 3, 2006

Learning how healthy cells work is an important step to preventing diseases like cancer and AIDS.


New insights into cancer and AIDS. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Tumors that stay in one place are far less dangerous than those that metastisize, or disperse all over the body. Now researchers may have learned how metastisis happens: cancer cells on the edge of a tumor, when they come in contact with normal cells, undergo a chemical change that unglues them. Most of the free-floating cells die, but even if one in a thousand lives and forms a new tumor, the cancer can be deadly. The team hopes to develop drugs that will short-circuit that ungluing process, and make cancer more treatable.

In other news, scientists in Germany have found that sunflowers defending themselves against a fungal infection produce a compound that may help fight the AIDS virus. The team hopes to produce enough of the compound to test in lab animals and ultimately humans.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.