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Lung stem cells vital to lung repair associated with poor cancer prognosis when found in tumor
Date:8/17/2010

Adult stem cells that are vital for airway repair in the lung but that persist in areas where pre-cancerous lesions are found are associated with a poor prognosis in patients who develop cancer, even those with early stage disease, researchers at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center have found.

These adult stem cells are found in repairing areas after injury and also are found in pre-cancerous areas, suggesting that these cells may mutate and become cancer causing stem cells, making them a potential cell-of-origin for lung cancer and a possible target for prevention strategies and new targeted therapies.

The study found that when these adult stem cells are found in excised tumors, they are associated with a poor prognosis and could be used as markers to dictate the need for more aggressive treatment for those patients, said Brigitte Gomperts, an assistant professor of hematology/oncology, a Jonsson Cancer Center researcher and co-senior author of the study.

The presence of the adult stem cells in the tumors also was found to be associated with a higher likelihood that the cancer had spread to other organs.

"We can use the presence of these adult stems cells to identify patients with a high likelihood of relapse and risk of the cancer spreading, even in those where the tumor is small and can be entirely removed," said Gomperts, who is also a researcher with the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA.

The study appeared Aug. 15, 2010 in the peer-reviewed journal Cancer Research.

There is a growing body of evidence that shows many if not all cancers are caused by stem cells. Cancer stem cells are resistant to therapy and lie dormant, ramping up sometimes years later and recreating the tumor. If the cancer stem cells can be identified and studied, targeted therapies could be developed to kill them.

In this study, Gomperts and her team scr
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Contact: Kim Irwin
kirwin@mednet.ucla.edu
310-206-2805
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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