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Stem cells give clues to understanding cancer and make breakthrough in childhood leukaemia
Date:2/13/2008

ack into the cell, we stop the growth of the cells in culture, and also in mouse models. This gene is acting as a tumour suppressor.

The hope is that further investigation of factors such as DNA methylation could lead to potential new treatments for cancer.

On the other hand, Professor Tariq Enver of the Weatherall Institute for Molecular Medicine at the University of Oxford presented findings of his research on acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), which has now been published in the journal Science[3].

Professor Enver, who is a EuroSTELLS collaborator and his co-workers, demonstrated for the first time the existence of cancer stem cells in ALL. The researchers compared the blood of three-year-old identical twins, one of whom has the disease while the other is healthy.

The researchers found that both twins had genetically abnormal blood cells pre-leukaemic stem cells that reside in the bone marrow. It appears that these cells can either lay dormant or can somehow be triggered to develop into full-blown leukaemia stem cells.

The researchers showed that these cells arise from an abnormal fusion of two genes during the mothers pregnancy. Professor Enver said, This research means that we can now test whether the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in children can be correlated with either the disappearance or persistence of the leukaemia stem cell. Our next goal is to target both the pre-leukaemic stem cell and the cancer stem cell itself with new or existing drugs to cure leukaemia while avoiding the debilitating and often harmful side effects of current treatments.

EuroSTELLS is a EUROCORES programme, managed by the European Medical Research Councils (EMRC) at the European Science Foundation.


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Contact: Dr. Fiona Kernan
fkernan@esf.org
33-388-762-180
European Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert

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