Navigation Links
Genetic tracking identifies cancer stem cells in human patients
Date:5/15/2014

The gene mutations driving cancer have been tracked for the first time in patients back to a distinct set of cells at the root of cancer cancer stem cells.

The international research team, led by scientists at the University of Oxford and the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, studied a group of patients with myelodysplastic syndromes a malignant blood condition which frequently develops into acute myeloid leukaemia.

The researchers say their findings, reported in the journal Cancer Cell, offer conclusive evidence for the existence of cancer stem cells.

The concept of cancer stem cells has been a compelling but controversial idea for many years. It suggests that at the root of any cancer there is a small subset of cancer cells that are solely responsible for driving the growth and evolution of a patient's cancer. These cancer stem cells replenish themselves and produce the other types of cancer cells, as normal stem cells produce other normal tissues.

The concept is important, because it suggests that only by developing treatments that get rid of the cancer stem cells will you be able to eradicate the cancer. Likewise, if you could selectively eliminate these cancer stem cells, the other remaining cancer cells would not be able to sustain the cancer.

'It's like having dandelions in your lawn. You can pull out as many as you want, but if you don't get the roots they'll come back,' explains first author Dr Petter Woll of the MRC Weatherall Institute for Molecular Medicine at the University of Oxford.

The researchers, led by Professor Sten Eirik W Jacobsen at the MRC Molecular Haematology Unit and the Weatherall Institute for Molecular Medicine at the University of Oxford, investigated malignant cells in the bone marrow of patients with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and followed them over time.

Using genetic tools to establish in which cells cancer-driving mutations originated and then propagated into other cancer cells, they demonstrated that a distinct and rare subset of MDS cells showed all the hallmarks of cancer stem cells, and that no other malignant MDS cells were able to propagate the tumour.

The MDS stem cells were rare, sat at the top of a hierarchy of MDS cells, could sustain themselves, replenish the other MDS cells, and were the origin of all stable DNA changes and mutations that drove the progression of the disease.

'This is conclusive evidence for the existence of cancer stem cells in myelodysplastic syndromes,' says Dr Woll. 'We have identified a subset of cancer cells, shown that these rare cells are invariably the cells in which the cancer originates, and also are the only cancer-propagating cells in the patients. It is a vitally important step because it suggests that if you want to cure patients, you would need to target and remove these cells at the root of the cancer but that would be sufficient, that would do it.'

The existence of cancer stem cells has already been reported in a number of human cancers, explains Professor Jacobsen, but previous findings have remained controversial since the lab tests used to establish the identity of cancer stem cells have been shown to be unreliable and, in any case, do not reflect the "real situation" in an intact tumour in a patient.

'In our studies we avoided the problem of unreliable lab tests by tracking the origin and development of cancer-driving mutations in MDS patients,' says Professor Jacobsen, who also holds a guest professorship at the Karolinska Institutet.

Dr Woll adds: 'We can't offer patients today new treatments with this knowledge. What it does is give us a target for development of more efficient and cancer stem cell specific therapies to eliminate the cancer.

'We need to understand more about what makes these cancer stem cells unique, what makes them different to all the other cancer cells. If we can find biological pathways that are specifically dysregulated in cancer stem cells, we might be able to target them with new drugs.'

Dr Woll cautions: 'It is important to emphasize that our studies only investigated cancer stem cells in MDS, and that the identity, number and function of stem cells in other cancers are likely to differ from that of MDS.'


'/>"/>

Contact: University of Oxford
news.office@admin.ox.ac.uk
44-186-528-0530
University of Oxford
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Large panel genetic testing produces more questions than answers in breast cancer
2. Researchers identify genetic marker linked to OCD
3. Dartmouth scientists identify genetic blueprint for cancerous tumors of the appendix
4. Scientists decode epigenetic mechanisms distinguishing stem cell function and blood cancer
5. Few women at high-risk for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer receive genetic counseling
6. Genetic, environmental influences equally important risk for autism spectrum disorder
7. Vanderbilt study explores genetics behind Alzheimers resiliency
8. Brain tumor cells penetrated by tiny, degradable particles carrying genetic instructions
9. Identification of genetic mutations involved in human blood diseases
10. Genetic alterations in shared biological pathways as major risk factor for ASD
11. Non-uniform genetic mutations identified in lung cancers could lead to targeted treatment
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/9/2016)... ... February 09, 2016 , ... Dr. Rassouli, cosmetic dentist in ... is among the most popular cosmetic procedures in dentistry today, but the cost often ... put them at risk of teeth whitening-related damage. For a limited time, Dr. Rassouli ...
(Date:2/9/2016)... , ... February 09, 2016 , ... ... to create “Ebola: In Praise of Prevention,” an animated video designed ... English and French translations of the video are being distributed throughout Togo, Liberia, ...
(Date:2/8/2016)... ... 08, 2016 , ... CURE Media Group , the nation’s leading digital ... Myeloma Heroes Awards event , which will annually honor individuals making heroic contributions in ... The MM Heroes Awards nomination process is officially open through February 17 ...
(Date:2/8/2016)... ... ... is famous for gift giving with flowers, chocolates and other tokens of affection meant to ... more than 5.6 million Americans suffering with Alzheimer’s, those store bought gifts - no ... lives they’ve led and the people they’ve touched. , That’s why Give ...
(Date:2/8/2016)... ... 08, 2016 , ... Steve Helwig & Associates Insurance & Financial, serving the ... has teamed up with Citizens Opposed to Domestic Abuse in support of its efforts ... all those victimized by the fear of violence in their own homes, donations may ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:2/8/2016)... Feb.8, 2016 Cardiovascular Surgery Devices - ... GlobalData,s Medical Devices sector report, "Cardiovascular Surgery Devices ... overview of Cardiovascular Surgery Devices currently in pipeline ... The report provides comprehensive information on the ... at various stages of development. The report reviews ...
(Date:2/8/2016)... YORK , Feb. 8, 2016  Labvantage ... today announces its first male sexual enhancement product, ... EnduramenT combines proven ethnobotanicals with a patented biomedical ... nitric oxide, the chemical compound responsible for many ... Forgoing the use ...
(Date:2/8/2016)... and FAIRFIELD, N.J. , ... and Medimetriks Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Medimetriks) today announced that they ... development and commercialization rights for OPA-15406 in the U.S. ... also provides manufacturing rights.  OPA-15406 is a topical, non-steroidal ... atopic dermatitis. --> --> ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: