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Embryonic pathway delivers stem cell traits
Date:5/15/2008

entiate into two kinds of mammary cells. And cells in the mammospheres retained their stem cell properties even after the EMT induction process was stopped.

Furthermore, when the Weinberg lab scientists isolated stem-cell-like cells from cultured human mammary epithelial cells or from mouse breast tissue, their properties were very similar to the EMT-induced cells. Working with Kornelia Polyak of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, Mani found that this was also true with normal and tumor cells obtained from human patients.

This for us is a very exciting discovery, not only because of its unexpectedness but because it offers a route by which one could in principle generate unlimited numbers of stem cells committed to create a specific cell type, says Weinberg, who is also a professor of biology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. One could imagine, for example, that if one takes skin cells and induces them to undergo an EMT, they could become skin stem cells.

Importantly, the researchers also demonstrated that inducing the EMT process can produce cells with many characteristics of cancer stem cells. (Beginning in 2003, scientists in various labs have identified these self-renewing, tumor-seeding cells in a number of solid tumors.)

This finding could help to answer a key question about metastasis: When tumor cells spread into different sites, how do they multiply enough to form a dangerous new tumor"

If you take a population of human cancer cells that normally form a tumor very inefficiently and induce an EMT, their tumor-initiating abilities increase by about a hundred-fold, so that it takes about 10,000 cells rather than a million cells to form a tumor, says Wenjun Guo, co-lead author on the paper and postdoctoral researcher in the Weinberg lab. This suggests cancer stem cells are using pre-existing normal stem cell machinery to propagate their own self-renewal and therefore their tumor-initi
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Contact: Cristin Carr
carr@wi.mit.edu
617-324-0460
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research
Source:Eurekalert

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5. Embryonic Stem Cells Turned Into Three Types of Heart Cells
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7. Module map links embryonic stem cells and cancer stem cells
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