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Nat Rev Cancer. 2008 May;8(5):377-86. doi: 10.1038/nrc2371.

Fusion of tumour cells with bone marrow-derived cells: a unifying explanation for metastasis.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology and the Yale Cancer Center, Yale University School of Medicine, 333 Cedar Street, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-08059, USA.


The causes of metastasis remain elusive despite vast information on cancer cells. We posit that cancer cell fusion with macrophages or other migratory bone marrow-derived cells (BMDCs) provides an explanation. BMDC-tumour hybrids have been detected in numerous animal models and recently in human cancer. Molecular studies indicate that gene expression in such hybrids reflects a metastatic phenotype. Should BMDC-tumour fusion be found to underlie invasion and metastasis in human cancer, new approaches for therapy would surely follow.

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