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New Prostrates Grown From Single Stem Cell
Date:10/22/2008

Researchers think feat could shed light on how cancer develops

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Using just a single adult stem cell, scientists say they have grown entire prostates in mice.

This feat was made possible by the identification of a genetic signature distinguishing stem cells from other types of cells, according to a report in the Oct. 23 issue of Nature.

This information still has to be confirmed in humans, but understanding normal cells should eventually lead to an understanding of how prostate cancer develops.

"It's another step showing that stem cells can be a root case of a cancer . . . so it gives targets for treatment," said Dr. Darwin Prockop, the Stearman Chair in Genomic Medicine, a professor of molecular and cellular medicine at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, and director of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Scott & White in Temple, Texas.

"This provides ways to understand prostate cancer that might be related to stem cells," added Paul Sanberg, distinguished professor of neurosurgery and director of the University of South Florida Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair in Tampa.

Stem cells have the ability to differentiate into many types of cells in the body. As such, they hold the promise of leading to treatments, and possibly, one day, even cures for neurological and many other diseases.

Many scientists believe stem cells in normal tissue are the same cells that give rise to cancer. But study co-author Leisa Johnson, a senior scientist with Genentech in San Francisco, said that point has not yet been proven.

In rodents, the normal prostate undergoes up-and-down cycles of androgen (a male hormone), indicating to researchers the presence of prostate stem cells. But how to identify them?

Several markers have been reported on the surface of these stem cells, but they also are presen
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