Deciphering cancer clues from blood

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Science  27 Mar 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6485, pp. 1424-1425
DOI: 10.1126/science.abb0736

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Cancer is associated with considerable morbidity and mortality, and despite therapeutic advances, it still represents the second leading cause of death worldwide (1). As cancers grow, evolve, and spread, they shed circulating tumor cells (CTCs), as well as other tumor-associated cells and products, into the bloodstream. Capturing and analyzing CTCs or other tumor-associated cells and products from a patient's blood sample can provide insight into a particular cancer's biology, response to treatment, and/ or potential therapeutic targets (2). CTCs are heterogeneous; a pressing question concerns which CTCs represent those directly involved in metastasis, the major cause of cancer-related death. On page 1468 of this issue, Ebright et al. (3) identify genes in patient-derived CTCs encoding ribosomal proteins (RPs) that were associated with metastatic progression in mouse models, poor outcome in patients, and alterations in global translation. These findings could point to potential biomarkers or targets for future metastatic cancer therapies.

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