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Mass. General study finds potential ovarian cancer stem cells

ian cancer cell lines and identified cells with characteristics of the cancer stem cells found with other tumors. They then observed a small percentage of stem-like cells in human ovarian cancer lines and in cells taken from ascites fluid that had accumulated within the abdomen of several ovarian cancer patients. When mouse ovarian tumor stem-like cells were injected under the skin of mice, they led to the formation of new tumors much faster than did injections of regular tumor cells.

Although the potential ovarian cancer stem cells were less responsive than regular tumor cells to in vitro treatment with the chemotherapy drug doxorubicin, the stem-like cells remained sensitive to repeated treatment with Mullerian Inhibiting Substance (MIS). This protein, important in the normal development of sexual organs, has been studied for its potential to treat several reproductive tumors by Patricia Donahoe, MD, director of the MGH Pediatric Surgical Research Laboratories and senior author of the PNAS study, and David MacLaughlin, PhD, associate director of the labs and a study co-author.

"We feel that non-traditional, possibly innovative approaches will be required to eradicate these stem-like cancer cells and ultimately cure ovarian cancer. With its potential to maintain the ability to inhibit the proliferation of these cells, MIS may play a role in these new therapeutic approaches," Donahoe says. "We intend to keep searching for stem-like cells in patient tumor samples and to study their responsiveness to both chemotherapeutic agents and to novel agents specifically targeted to stem cell as individualized therapy of the future." Donahoe is the Marshall K. Bartlett Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School.


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Source:Massachusetts General Hospital


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