Scientists Find Mini Gastrointestinal Tract Growing Inside Tumor
Published:27 Apr.2018    Source:Scientific American
Embedded in a lung cancer tumor, scientists have found a gastrointestinal tract in miniature. Duke University researchers have observed rudimentary, but functional, stomachs, small intestines, and duodenums growing inside cancerous lungs—illustrating how varied and plastic these metastatic cells can be. Cancerous cells, after all, use the very same developmental mechanisms as healthy cells do to adapt and survive.
 
Researchers found that a large proportion of human lung cancer cells lack a developmental gene called NKX2-1, which helps stem cells morph into lung cells. So these cancer cells defaulted to another developmental pathway—instead of taking advantage of the coding that turns stem cells into gut. Indeed, Tata found that many lung cancer cells expressed genes associated with gastrointestinal organs.