Stem cells blamed for cancer re-growth

2012-08-02 10:52
Researchers have presented evidence for the existence of cancer stem cells. (AP)

Researchers have presented evidence for the existence of cancer stem cells. (AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Paris - Researchers presented evidence for the existence of cancer stem cells, with three different studies seeking to end a decades-old scientific dispute about how tumours grow.

The discovery should lead to new drugs targeting stem cells that cause tumours to reappear after cancer therapy, the teams argued in three scientific papers published simultaneously in the journals Nature and Science.

"The hypothesis [that cancer stem cells exist] has been around now for some time. Hopefully these three papers now make an end to the discussion," said Dutch researcher Hugo Snippert.

All the studies were conducted on lab mice.

Some experts have maintained that tumours are comprised of masses of cancer cells that are all the same, and all dividing.

Hierarchy


But Snippert said the latest papers clearly show a hierarchy of cells in tumours, with different functions - including stem cells that act as cancer cell factories.

Stem cells are infant cells that develop into specialised tissues of the body, touted by medicine as a future source from which to replenish damaged tissue.

In the case of intestinal cancer, a healthy stem cell mutates to create a "cell of origin" from which a tumour grows, said Snippert. The tumour contains stem cells which then create new cancer cells.

Cancer stem cells must now be targeted for drug research, argued Snippert, a member of the University Medical Centre Utrecht research team which focused on intestinal cancer and published its findings in Science.

"Since the cancer stem cells are so similar to normal stem cells, most treatments also harm the normal stem cells," he said.

"That is why it is important now to have a look at cancer stem cells, comparing them to normal stem cells to find the differences."

Focusing on incurable brain tumours, a US-based research team said they had found a subset of cells that appear to be the source of new tumour growth after chemotherapy.

Latest technology

"This study serves as a proof of principle that in at least some solid tumours functional cancer stem cells exist," said researcher Luis Parada of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre.

Also writing in Nature, a separate team in Belgium and the UK found a sub-population of tumour cells with stem-like properties in skin cancer.

"Taken together these reports provide evidence that point towards the existence of cells that may represent cancer stem cells," said a Nature press statement.

Snippert said the latest technology has allowed the scientists to examine tumour cancer growth in as natural a state as possible, unlike earlier studies that involved tumour transplants in lab mice.

The Dutch team was able to breed special mice in which different tumour cells displayed different colours which could then be studied under a microscope.

Say the tumour cells were red and the stem cell blue, the scientists could follow the stem cell's progeny as they spread in the tumour.

"Because of the colours we could visualise everything within one and the same tumour in its original mouse at the original position where the tumour was formed," Snippert said.

"It is more natural... as it would behave normally in patients."

The three teams studied different organs using somewhat different techniques, but all with technology that allowed them to let the tumours grow undisturbed, said Snippert.

"Better understanding of the cancer stem cells will be critical for re-evaluation of existing therapies and development of new ones," added Parada.
Read more on:    cancer  |  stem cell research  |  health  |  research
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

The world's least visited destination is breathtaking!

Who would have guessed the world’s least visited country would have such spectacular beaches?

 
 

I love summer.24

LOL treadmill fail!
Google’s top searches of 2014
10 of the strangest Christmas traditions around the world
2014's best drone videos

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Any chance to explore the distant shores of things yet to be found will fascinate you. The challenge is dealing with the issues...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.