Scientists have taken microscopic images revealing that the protein ties tethering cells together are severed in lung cancer cells — meaning they can break loose and spread, according to research published in Cell Reports December 24.

The researchers at the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute discovered that the ties which lash cells together — controlled by a protein called TIAM1 — are chopped up when cell maintenance work goes wrong.

Healthy cells routinely scrap old cell parts so they can be broken down and used again. But this process spirals out of control in lung cancer cells, which scrap too many TIAM1 ties**.

Targeting this recycling process could stop lung cancer from spreading by keeping the cells stuck firmly together.

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