Normal cells near cancerous ones can support their malignant neighbours by secreting proteins in response to anticancer drugs.
Peter Nelson at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, and his team found that chemotherapy triggered benign cells near prostate tumours to secrete a signalling protein called WNT16B. This promoted tumour growth and could help tumours to become resistant to therapy. Targeting the regulators of WNT16B, or other components of the tumour microenvironment, could be routes to developing anti-resistance drugs.
Nature Med. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nm.2890 (2012)