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IBN discovers human neural stem cells with tumor targeting ability
Date:4/20/2012

Singapore, April 20, 2012 Could engineered human stem cells hold the key to cancer survival? Scientists at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN), the world's first bioengineering and nanotechnology research institute, have discovered that neural stem cells possess the innate ability to target tumor cells outside the central nervous system. This finding, which was demonstrated successfully on breast cancer cells, was recently published in leading peer reviewed journal, Stem Cells.

Despite decades of cancer research, cancer remains a leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for 7.6 million deaths in 2008, and breast cancer is one of the most common causes of cancer deaths each year . In Singapore, more than 1,400 women are diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 300 die as a result of breast cancer each year . The high fatality rate of cancer is partially attributed to the invasive ability of malignant tumors to spread throughout the human body, and the ineffectiveness of conventional therapies to eradicate the cancer cells.

A team of researchers led by IBN Group Leader, Dr Shu Wang, has made a landmark discovery that neural stem cells (NSCs) derived from human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells could be used to treat breast cancer. The effectiveness of using NSCs, which originate from the central nervous system, to treat brain tumors has been investigated in previous studies. This is the first study that demonstrates that iPS cell-derived NSCs could also target tumors outside the central nervous system, to treat both primary and secondary tumors.

To test the efficiency of NSCs in targeting and treating breast cancer, the researchers injected NSCs loaded with a suicide gene (herpes simplex virus thymidine) into mice bearing breast tumors. They did this using baculoviral vectors or gene carriers engineered from an insect virus (baculovirus), which does not replicate in human cells, making the carrie
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Contact: Elena Tan
elenatan@ibn.a-star.edu.sg
65-682-47032
Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore
Source:Eurekalert

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