Eureka!: Small Wonders

Keeping Cancer in Its Place

Image: Loukia Karacosta

By Charlotte Hsu


When cancer cells spread, they use a structure on their surface, called the Thomsen-Friedenreich receptor, to help them get around. So, reasoned UB medical researcher Kate Rittenhouse-Olson, blocking its activity should help prevent metastasis. Her start-up company, For-Robin, is developing a drug that latches onto and disables the receptor. In the image above, the brown regions show where the antibody has bound to cancer cells, while surrounding, noncancerous tissue remains unaffected. As an added benefit, the antibody acts as an SOS signal once it’s attached to a tumor, attracting the attention of white blood cells that can help destroy cancer.