What is it about?

This is a preliminary study to prove that cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) increase the growth of endometrial cancer cells. Unlike normal fibroblasts, it is identified that PI3K/Akt and MAPK/Erk pathways in endometrial cancer cells are significantly activated in the presence of CAFs-treated cells. The activation of communication pathways between cancerous cells indirectly encouraging the growth of these cancerous cells. Results show that the inhibition of these CAFs disrupt cell growth and may eventually restrain the spread of cancerous cells. This benefits scientists and clinicians worldwide in improving therapies not only for uterine cancer but also for other types of cancer.

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Why is it important?

The focus of drug development in cancer treatment has always been on the eradication of cancer cells in the body. However, little research is being done on preventing the spread of cancer cells. The discovery of the role of fibroblasts in the survival and growth of endometrial cancer cells enables the development of drugs that inhibits the metastasis of cancer cells. Unlike current available treatment, drugs can be developed to target only malignant cells while preserving normal tissues and the womb indirectly increasing survival rate.


Endometrial cancer has been on the rise due to various factors such as obesity and unopposed hormone usage. Being the fourth most commonly diagnosed cancer among women globally, the treatment for early detection is usually surgery. Current treatments are focused on reducing the chances of surgery and preserving the womb. The understanding of the interaction and cellular processes between cancer cells is important as it can guide new development of therapy which minimizes the negative effects of surgery and existing treatments. In line with UN’s third Sustainable Development Goal, this finding could drastically improve the quality of life for many patients as the possibility of non-invasive treatments not only aids in the cure of the disease but also maintains their general well-being.

Ivy Chung
University of Malaya

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Cancer-Associated Fibroblasts Promote Proliferation of Endometrial Cancer Cells, PLoS ONE, July 2013, PLOS,
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0068923.
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