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Stomach stem cell discovery could bring cancer insights
Date:10/3/2007

ANN ARBOR, Mich. Scientists have identified and described stem cells specific to several tissues and organs of the body key master cells that give rise to the specialized cell types characteristic of that organ. But to date, it hasnt been possible to pinpoint functioning stem cells in the stomach, either in laboratory animals or people.

Now, a group of University of Michigan Medical School researchers has succeeded in finding and manipulating a population of cells that strongly resemble stem cells in the stomachs of mice. They have been able to show that these cells, which they call gastric progenitor cells, can give rise to all the different types (or lineages) of specialized cells needed to form the functional stomach glands that line the lower portion of the stomach. This property of multi-lineage potential is considered a key stem cell property.

The identification of these progenitor cells will not only aid in our understanding of normal cell turnover in the stomach, but could potentially open some new and exciting doors in our investigation of the origins of gastric cancer, says Deborah Gumucio, Ph.D., a U-M developmental biologist and senior author of a study which appears online ahead of print in the journal Gastroenterology.

The epithelial cells that make up the millions of glands of the stomach are constantly turning over. Most of the mature functioning cells live only 20 to 60 days before being replaced by progeny of dividing resident stem cells. These stem cells are not only a constant source of new cells, but they represent an important reservoir for repair of damage to the stomach caused by injury or inflammation. In addition, since the stem cells are the longest-lived of the gastric cells, it is thought that these are the only cells that live long enough to accumulate the multiple mutations that can cause cancers. For these reasons, the ability to identify and manipulate stomach progenitor cells has been an im
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Contact: Anne Reuter
arueter@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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