Navigation Links
Stem cells may be key to understanding the origins of colon cancer and detecting relapse
Date:3/17/2011

Colorectal cancer cells trigger a set of genes similar to those found in intestinal stem cells, scientists at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) have found. The team of researchers, led by ICREA researcher Eduard Batlle, propose that patients with colorectal cancer undergo genetic tests of their intestinal epithelium in order to predict a higher risk of relapse. The results of the study, published online this week in Cell Stem Cell, offer new possibilities for diagnosing and treating the disease.

Colon cancer is the second cause of death by cancer worldwide. Current treatment for the disease normally involves a combination of surgery and chemotherapy. Most patients who are treated successfully go into remission, but nearly 40% relapse within months or years, when the cancer returns or metastasizes. "This shows us that there are cells within the tumour that regenerate the disease," says Batlle, "but we still know very little about the biological reasons why."

Cancer's "hard core"

The study conducted by Anna Merlos-Surez and other researchers in Batlle's team has uncovered a close relation between intestinal stem cells (non-specialised cells that generate all cells within the intestine) and colorectal cancer. The researchers compared genes that are activated in cells from a healthy intestine both stem cells and specialised cells with the genes that are activated in tumour cells taken from patients. "Our results show that patients with colon cancer have a set of genes activated that is very similar to the set activated in stem cells. The more genes they have activated in common, the more likely it is that the patient's cancer will spread and relapse.

These stem cell genes become activated in a subset of cells in the tumour, called "tumour stem cells". When Batlle's team transplanted these cells into mice, tumours formed. Their results add to the growing hypothesis that cancer organizes itself hierarchically, in such a way that only specific cells, "tumour stem cells", are able to initiate and propagate the cancer.

What is it about stem cells that allows them to promote cancer? By definition, stem cells renew tissues, including in this case the intestinal epithelium, and can produce up to 5 grams of intestinal epithelial cells each day. Scientists believe that tumours may exploit the capacity of these cells to renew indefinitely in order to grow and spread. Furthermore, while the majority of cells have an average lifespan of days, as in the case of intestinal epithelial cells, or even months, stem cells survive for many years, increasing the probability that their DNA will accumulate damage and that they will turn cancerous.

One of the biggest hurdles that oncologists face is a lack of tools to identify which patients have a higher risk of relapse. Discovering a close relation between intestinal stem cells and the propagation of cancer is a clear breakthrough in this respect. The hypothesis that colorectal cancer requires a specific type of cell to develop and thrive has also been demonstrated in other types of cancer, including gliomas, some types of lymphoma or breast cancer. This finding opens the door for the development of treaments aimed at these new targets in the fight against cancer: tumour stem cells.


'/>"/>

Contact: Nuria Noriega
nuria.noriega@irbbarcelona.org
Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Johns Hopkins team creates stem cells from schizophrenia patients
2. Laser beam makes cells breathe in water and potentially anti-cancer drugs
3. Method reveals new view of human nerve cells, opening door to potential drug targets
4. Rensselaer professor utilizing New York state grant to study adult stem cells
5. 3-D tracking of single molecules inside cells
6. Columbia engineer observes surprising behavior of cells during blood-vessel formation
7. Rockefeller Scientists discover new compound that rids cells of Alzheimer protein debris
8. A new stem cell enters the mix: Induced conditional self-renewing progenitor cells
9. Scripps Research scientists develop new test for pluripotent stem cells
10. Jekyll and Hyde: Cells executioner can also stave off death
11. A little off the top helps NIST map cells with submicrometer resolution
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:8/23/2017)... 2017  The general public,s help is being enlisted in what,s thought ... in and on the human body –and are believed to affect health.  ... The Microbiome Immunity Project is the ... with the gut. The project's goal is to help advance scientific knowledge ... ...
(Date:7/20/2017)... July 20, 2017 Delta (NYSE: DAL ) customers ... Delta aircraft at Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). ... Delta launches biometrics to board aircraft ... Delta,s biometric boarding pass ... is now integrated into the boarding process to allow eligible Delta ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... and ITHACA, N.Y. , ... and Cornell University, a leader in dairy research, today ... bioinformatics designed to help reduce the chances that the ... the onset of this dairy project, Cornell University has ... for Sequencing the Food Supply Chain, a food safety ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... The Blavatnik Family ... and six Finalists of the 2017 Blavatnik Regional Awards for Young Scientists. ... and administered by the New York Academy of Sciences to honor the excellence ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... the first-ever genomics analysis platform specifically designed for life science researchers to ... of pioneering researcher Rosalind Franklin, who made a major contribution to the ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... Proscia Inc ., a ... Webinar titled, “Pathology is going digital. Is your lab ready?” with Dr. Nicolas ... practices and how Proscia improves lab economics and realizes an increase in diagnostic ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... Singh Biotechnology today ... designation to SBT-100, its novel anti-STAT3 (Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 3) ... able to cross the cell membrane and bind intracellular STAT3 and inhibit its ...
Breaking Biology Technology: