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To evade chemotherapy, some cancer cells mimic stem cells
Date:9/19/2007

ATLANTA - Anti-cancer treatments often effectively shrink the size of tumors, but some might have an opposite effect, actually expanding the small population of cancer stem cells believed to drive the disease, according to findings presented today in Atlanta, Georgia at the American Association for Cancer Researchs second International Conference on Molecular Diagnostics in Cancer Therapeutic Development.

Our experiments suggest that some treatments could be producing more cancer stem cells that then are capable of metastasizing, because these cells are trying to find a way to survive the therapy, said one of the studys investigators, Vasyl Vasko, M.D. Ph.D., a pathologist at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md.

This may help explain why the expression of stem cell markers has been associated with resistance to chemotherapy and radiation treatments and poor outcome for patients with cancers including prostate, breast and lung cancers, Dr. Vasko said. That tells us that understanding how to target these markers and these cells could prove useful in treating these cancers.

The cancer stem cell markers include Nanog and BMI1, both of which contribute to stem cells defining ability to renew themselves and differentiate into different cell types, Dr. Vasko said. These same molecules are found in embryonic stem cells.

Researchers have recently debated the notion that some therapies are not capable of eradicating cancer because they do not target the cancer stem cells responsible for tumor development. To test this hypothesis, Dr. Vasko, along with scientists from the CRTRC Institute for Drug Development in San Antonio and from the Johns Hopkins University, set out to measure both stem cells markers and tumor volume before and after treatment in a mouse model.

They selected a rare form of cancer, mesenchymal chondrosarcoma (MCS), which has not been well described and for which there is
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Contact: Greg Lester
267-646-0554
American Association for Cancer Research
Source:Eurekalert

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