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Stem cells make bone marrow cancer resistant to treatment
Date:1/11/2008

Scientists at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center say they have evidence that cancer stem cells for multiple myeloma share many properties with normal stem cells and have multiple ways of resisting chemotherapy and other treatments.

A report on the evidence, published in the Jan. 1 issue of the journal Cancer Research, may explain why the disease is so persistent, the Johns Hopkins scientists say, and pave the way for treatments that overcome the cells drug resistance. Multiple myeloma affects bone marrow and bone tissue.

Cancer stem cells that have distinct biology and drug sensitivity as compared with the bulk of a cancer may explain why multiple myeloma, like many other cancers, so often relapses even after chemotherapy puts patients into remission, says Richard J. Jones, M.D., professor and director of bone marrow transplant at Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and one of the scientists who authored the new report.

The existence of cancer stem cells - a topic of some controversy in cancer biology - is seen by some scientists as a useful explanation for the long history of difficulty in overcoming some cancers persistence.

The Hopkins investigators previously had uncovered a rare stem cell in myeloma, accounting for less than one percent of all the cancers cells. Working with cell samples from myeloma patients, the team found that this stem cell originates from immune system B-cells and is capable of giving rise to the malignant bone marrow cells characteristic of the disease.

In the current study, the scientists isolated stem cells from the blood of four patients with multiple myeloma and transplanted them into mice. All of the animals developed hind-limb paralysis and showed signs of cancer in the bone marrow. By contrast, plasma cells that were transplanted from multiple myeloma patients to mice did not engraft. The Hopkins scientists say that recreating the disease in mice provides more evidence that these ce
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Contact: Vanessa Wasta
wastava@jhmi.edu
410-955-1287
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Source:Eurekalert

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