Do stem cells spur on cancer growth?
Online studies present evidence for cancer stem cells within the original tumors
American, Belgian, British and Dutch researchers have addressed the
issue of whether stem cell therapy - wherein cells are transplanted into
a patient to generate re-growth - in fact causes cancer cells to
regenerate. Three online studies present evidence for cancer stem cells
within the original tumors.
The research relied on laboratory mice. These coupled with other factors mean that the new findings still probably won't convince everyone that cancer stem cells are essential to finding more powerful treatments.
These three separate studies do support a long-debated idea that tumors contain their own pool of stem cells that can multiply and keep fueling the cancer, seeding re-growth. If true, scientists will need to find a way to kill those cells, apart from other parts of the tumor.
Over the past decade, studies have found evidence for them in tumors like breast and colon cancers. Again, this research has relied on transplanting human cancer cells into mice that don't have immune systems.
Researcher Luis Parada with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, believes his team is onto something. He says that for the type of brain tumor his team studied, "we've identified the true enemy."
If these results apply to other cancers, Parada says, then even if chemotherapy drastically shrinks a tumor but doesn't affect its supply of cancer stem cells, "very little progress has actually been made."
All three studies used labeling techniques to trace the ancestry of cells within mouse tumors.
Parada's team worked with mice genetically primed to develop a certain type of brain tumor, genetically labeling particular cells in the tumor and then attacked the cancer with the same drug given to human patients. It kills growing tumor cells and temporarily stops the cancer's growth.
When the tumor started growing again in the mice, the researchers showed that the vast majority, if not all, of its new cells had descended from the labeled cells. These were the tumor's cancer stem cells, they concluded.
Parada said his team is now trying to isolate cancer stem cells from mouse brain cancers to study them and perhaps get some leads for developing therapies to eradicate them.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Stem cells, cancer, therapy, research, laboratory mice
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