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Beatrice Mintz, Ph.D., receives ninth annual AACR Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research
Date:3/29/2012

e problem. By assembling early embryo cells from two genetically different mouse strains, viable "chimeric" mice were obtained, in which the genetic differences served as markers of cell migrations and interactions. Development occurred as an orderly expanding hierarchy of clones from small numbers of increasingly specialized stem cells, with a favorable balance between proliferation and differentiation.

In the mid-1970s, Mintz then proposed that cancer is essentially a genetically caused aberration of development, in which the balance is shifted toward stem cell proliferation. Thus, her research has made it possible to study cancer experimentally in an intact model organism throughout life.

Mintz chose to examine the relation between genetically cancer-prone early stem cells and normal cells, by producing chimeras including stem cells of a mouse teratocarcinoma (a tumor of the earliest-stage stem cells). The results were dramatic. Normal mice were obtained in which tumor-strain cells were found in all tissues examined, along with normal-strain cells. This led to another new and important concept that the microenvironment can have an ameliorating effect on the behavior of cancer cells.

Her laboratory next produced an in vitro stem cell line of the teratocarcinoma genotype, and showed that it could serve as a vehicle to convey a desired genetic change into the embryo, after first testing the cells in culture for that change. Next, the availability of specific DNA independently allowed Mintz's laboratory, and several others, to introduce a gene of interest directly into the fertilized egg. The change is then transmitted to offspring through the germ line. These mice are termed "transgenic."

Mintz has chosen to produce melanoma-prone transgenic mice that are valid models of melanoma in humans. The mice provide a means of improving our understanding of this malignancy, and of exploring treatments.

During her career, Mintz ha
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Contact: Diana Quattrone@fccc.edu
Diana.Quattrone@fccc.edu
215-815-7828
Fox Chase Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

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