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Why chemotherapy fails
Date:5/29/2012

m cells.

To attempt to resolve that debate, the team of Prof. Ehud Shapiro of the Weizmann Institute's Biological Chemistry, and Applied Mathematics and Computer Sciences Departments, worked with scientists and physicians from Rambam Medical Center and the Technion, both in Haifa. They used a method of reconstructing cell lineage trees that has been developed over the past few years in Shapiro's lab. This method is based on the fact that the genetic material in different body cells accumulates unique mutations during cell division, and these mutations are passed on to daughter cells during cell division. By comparing mutations, one can map out cells' detailed family trees, and thus determine how far back they share a common ancestor. The end product of this analysis is a tree that reconstructs the genealogy of the cells from their earliest forebears at the base of the tree to the youngest cells at the tips of the branches.

To reconstruct the cancer cell lineage tree, the team used two sets of blood samples: the first taken from leukemia patients right after the disease was diagnosed, and the second from those patients who had undergone chemotherapy and in whom the cancer had returned. The researchers could then trace the relationships of the recurring cancer cells back to see if they descended from the original cancer cells. The lineage tree showed that, at least in some of the patients, the source of the renewed cancer was not in the rapidly proliferating cancer cells, but rather in cells that were close to the root of the tree. These cells had only divided a few times. In other words, the cancer arose from cells that divide very slowly, making them resistant to the attacks of chemotherapy drugs.

Shapiro: "We know that in many cases, chemotherapy alone is not able to cure leukemia. Our results suggest that to completely eliminate it, we must look for a treatment that will not only eliminate the rapidly dividing cells, but also target th
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Contact: Yivsam Azgad
news@weizmann.ac.il
972-893-43856
Weizmann Institute of Science
Source:Eurekalert

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