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UCLA researchers identify leukemia stem cells
Date:5/27/2008

Stem cell researchers at UCLA have identified a type of leukemia stem cell and uncovered the molecular and genetic mechanisms that cause a normal blood stem cells to become cancerous.

The discovery may lead to new therapies that target these leukemia stem cells, attacking the disease at its very root and killing the early cells that give rise to the mature cancer cells. The study appears in the May 22, 2008 issue of the journal Nature.

Scientists now believe stem cells are responsible for the origin of many cancers and their ability to become drug resistant and spread throughout the body. Current cancer therapies dont target cancer stem cells, only the cancer cells that are generated by them. Scientists theorize that the cancer stem cells a very small population when compared with mature cancer cells - lay dormant while the cancer cells are killed. Later, sometimes years later, the cancer stem cells begin to self-renew and differentiate into malignant cells, causing a recurrence of the disease.

If scientists could understand the biology of cancer stem cells and find a way to kill them, it might provide what the oncology research community never talks about a potential cure for certain cancers. If the cancer stem cells could be sought out and eliminated from the body, the cancer could not re-grow.

Led by Dr. Hong Wu, a professor of medical and molecular pharmacology and a scientist with the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research, the UCLA team has for the first time identified and isolated the stem cells responsible for a type of leukemia known as T-cell or acute T-lymphoblastic leukemia, an aggressive and deadly cancer that , can occur in both children and adults. The team also discovered the mechanisms by which blood stem cells the cells that become the various cells in the blood supply are converted to malignant leukemia stem cells, providing potential targets for therapies to h
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Contact: Kim Irwin
kirwin@mednet.ucla.edu
310-206-2805
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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