By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – There is no doubt that one of the most frightening developments in cases of cancer is when it spreads or metastasizes to other parts of the body. This can happen when our body’s protective systems go awry.

Scientists at the University of California San Diego have done work on the subject and have shown that when neuroblastoma cells try to move away from the primary tumor, they encounter molecules which send out signals that activate a gene called caspase 8, which acts like a suicide gene. It all tells the cells to destroy themselves, because basically they’re in foreign territory. The purpose is to keep cancer from spreading.

Unfortunately in certain instances, some cancerous cells manage to bypass or inactivate caspase 8. That allows them to form tumors in other parts of the body. The bottom line is, if you can restore caspase 8, you can possibly stop the spread.

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