Navigation Links
Skin cells may provide early warning for cancer risk elsewhere in body
Date:10/15/2009

Berkeley -- While some scientists have argued that cancer is such a complex genetic disease that you'd have to sequence a person's complete genome in order to predict his or her cancer risk, a University of California, Berkeley, cell biologist suggests that the risk may be more simply determined by inexpensively culturing a few skin cells.

Harry Rubin, professor emeritus of molecular and cell biology at UC Berkeley, acknowledges that cancer cells have mutations in hundreds of genes, making it hard to determine which are the key triggers and making prognosis and treatment equally difficult. Even normal tissue differs from person to person because of a myriad of less disruptive mutations and because of different environmental exposures, both of which affect future cancer risk.

But in the September issue of the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, Rubin argues that, while it may be hard to dissect the role of each of these mutations, their collective effect should be observable in tissue before any cancers develop.

Specifically, increases in how densely the cells grow, which Rubin argues are a prelude to cancer, may be detectable even before the cancer appears, warning of risks that could be lessened by behavioral changes.

"Over a 50-year career, I've worked with cells transforming (into cancer) in culture and seen the first step in a dynamic way, seen cells continuing to multiply when they should have stopped," Rubin said. "This is the first step in cancer, though not yet cancer, and you can measure these changes quantitatively."

The problem, of course, is that it is impractical to test all the body's tissues to determine whether they have abnormal cell growth. But Rubin has found evidence from other studies that, in some cases, skin fibroblasts show these early changes even before cancer appears in other tissues, such as the colon.

"The abnormal growth behavior of skin fibroblasts in cancer-prone individuals has suggested that, at least in some cases, cancer can be considered a systemic disease and that this difference in the behavior of skin fibroblast cells from such individuals may be a practical basis for prevention, diagnosis and management of the disease," he concluded in his paper.

"It's a great idea, scientifically; the question is, 'Is it there clinically?'" said Douglas Brash, professor of therapeutic radiology, genetics and dermatology at Yale School of Medicine. "This is interesting enough that someone should look to see whether it is clinically reliable."

Dr. Stuart H. Yuspa, co-chief of the Laboratory of Cancer Biology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute, agreed. "Harry's ideas are always amazing, and I admired the paper," he said. "His idea has scientific support, and if it turned out to be correct, it could be extremely valuable for people, assuming they would want to know their risk."

Rubin bases his argument on various studies over the past 50+ years that show that cancers grow from a larger "field" of abnormally multiplying cells that otherwise look normal. These "field" cells are generally ignored by surgeons when they remove solid cancers - in fact, the large size of the field would make its total removal impossible - but pathologists have shown that the cells are capable of again giving rise to cancers.

"These cells have early mutations that could lead to cancer," Rubin said. "Even though they look normal, they multiply in places where they shouldn't and eventually accumulate enough mutations to form a carcinoma. They are the first stage in cancer, but not cancer."

The inappropriate growth - called cancerization - is a sign that the normal processes that stop growth when cells contact one another have been disrupted, though not fully, because otherwise the cells would invade the underlying connective tissue and become cancerous.

Rubin showed in experiments 15 years ago that if you take cells that grow normally in cell culture and encourage mutations, then select for behavioral abnormalities involving growth, you can get proliferation of cells that behave like cancerization field cells.

Similarly, while normal skin fibroblast cells grow to a certain density and stop, fibroblasts from cancer-susceptible individuals grow to an unusually high density in a Petri dish. That difference between fibroblasts from normal and cancer-susceptible individuals can be amplified to improve identification of those at risk of cancer, Rubin said.

Rubin suspects that the growth change in skin fibroblasts heralds a general change in all the body's epithelial tissue, that is, the tissues that line all the body organs. The most prevalent cancers - including colon, breast, lung, skin, head and neck - arise from epithelial tissue. In certain cancer-prone families, for example, the same mutated gene is found in all tissues, and the fibroblasts grow to high densities in culture, just like epithelial cells in a precancerous field do in the body.

"If this works out after studying a large number of cases, then the people who are found to have a high probability of developing cancer would be more likely to pay attention to their diet, exercise, weight, smoking and behaviors that are known to contribute to an increased risk of cancer," he said. "Basic studies of a cell culture model for field cancerization should reveal the conditions that drive or delay the process and could be applied in prevention of cancer."


'/>"/>

Contact: Robert Sanders
rsanders@berkeley.edu
510-643-6998
University of California - Berkeley
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Tumors use enzyme to recruit regulatory T-cells and suppress immune response
2. Brain cells work differently than previously thought
3. Embryonic Stem Cells Repair Human Heart
4. Embryonic Human Stem Cells May Help Repair Heart Muscle, Lab Study Shows
5. Circulating fats kill transplanted pancreas cells, study shows
6. Experimental anti-cancer drug made from corn lillies kills brain tumor stem cells
7. Melanoma drug revs immune cells but cancer cells ignore it
8. Scientists explain how insulin secreting cells maintain their glucose sensitivity
9. Embryonic stem cells used to grow cartilage
10. Molecular probe paints cancer cells in living animals, Stanford researchers find
11. USC researcher identifies stem cells in tendons that regenerate tissue in animal model
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/26/2017)... ... 2017 , ... After raising nearly $30,000 on Kickstarter , about three-times ... at a discounted crowdfunding price on Indiegogo . , “Along with creating an ... to bring a fidget toy to the market that was made of superior quality ...
(Date:5/26/2017)... ... May 26, 2017 , ... “When the Stars Lead Home”: a poignant ... of published author Laura Weigel Douglas, an avid reader who lives in the Pacific ... sometimes feels like Green Hills Adventure Camp. She couldn’t be more grateful. , Twelve-year ...
(Date:5/26/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... May 26, 2017 , ... Water damage ... Lee, New Jersey School District had left education officials with a number of critical ... replacement of the flooring had to be accomplished with little or no disruption to ...
(Date:5/24/2017)... ... 24, 2017 , ... NucleusHealth ™, advancing clinical practice ... Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 510(k) clearance for its Nucleus.io ... for medical image management. At the core is patented streaming technology that provides ...
(Date:5/24/2017)... ... May 24, 2017 , ... Myers Jackson is well ... the ability to sell luxury homes anywhere on the planet. The luxury home market ... from Hattiesburg to Houston city-scapes. A quick search of “11 Spyglass Hill Auction will ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:5/9/2017)... 9, 2017 Zimmer Biomet Holdings, Inc. (NYSE ... today announced it has earned a spot on ... The Company was ranked among 500 U.S. employers as ... Healthcare Equipment and Services. The annual ... anonymous, independent survey of over 30,000 employees across 25 ...
(Date:5/9/2017)... 2017  Semler Scientific, Inc. (OTCQB: SMLR), an ... improve the clinical effectiveness and efficiency of healthcare ... quarter ended March 31, 2017. ... to identify when preventive care options are appropriate, ... heart attacks or strokes occur," said Doug ...
(Date:5/6/2017)... , May 5, 2017   Provista , a proven ... than 200,000 customers, today announced Jim Cunniff as ... of executive and business experience to Provista, including most recently ... in California . He assumed his new ... is a great fit for Provista," says Jody Hatcher ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: