Scientists isolate cancer stem cells

Sep 11, 2008

After years of working toward this goal, scientists at the OU Cancer Institute have found a way to isolate cancer stem cells in tumors so they can target the cells and kill them, keeping cancer from returning.

A research team at the University of Oklahoma led by Courtney Houchen, M.D., and Shrikant Anant, Ph.D., discovered that a particular protein only appears in stem cells. Until now, researchers knew of proteins that appeared in both regular cancer cells and stem cells, but none that just identified a stem cell.

The group has already begun work to use the protein as a target for a new compound that once developed would kill the stem cells and kill the cancer. By targeting the stem cells, scientists and physicians also would be able to stop the cancer from returning.

Houchen and Anant are focusing on adult cancer stem cells because of the major role they play in the start of cancer, the growth of cancer, the spread of cancer and the return of cancer.

Current therapies generally do not target stem cells in tumors. This allows stem cells to wait until after chemotherapy or radiation treatments to begin dividing. Researchers believe these stem cells are often responsible for the return of cancer after treatment. The identification of the stem cell marker enables researchers to develop new therapeutics that can target these cells.

Adult stem cells work as essential building blocks in organs by replenishing dying cells and regenerating damaged tissues.

Researchers expect to have initial testing completed to begin the first phase of clinical trials within 5 years led by Russell Postier, M.D. The compound, if successful in human trials, is expected to be available to the public within 10 years.

Unlike embryonic stem cells, the use of adult stem cells in research and therapy is not controversial because the production of adult stem cells does not require the destruction of an embryo.

Source: University of Oklahoma

Explore further: Death from cancer more likely in New Zealand

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Histones and the mystery of cell proliferation

Aug 19, 2014

Before cells divide, they create so much genetic material that it must be wound onto spools before the two new cells can split apart. These spools are actually proteins called histones, and they must multiply ...

Venom gets good buzz as potential cancer-fighter

Aug 11, 2014

Bee, snake or scorpion venom could form the basis of a new generation of cancer-fighting drugs, scientists will report here today. They have devised a method for targeting venom proteins specifically to malignant cells while ...

Biology made simpler with "clear" tissues

Aug 04, 2014

(Phys.org) —In general, our knowledge of biology—and much of science in general—is limited by our ability to actually see things. Researchers who study developmental problems and disease, in particular, ...

Illuminating the dark side of the genome

Jul 29, 2014

Almost 50 percent of our genome is made up of highly repetitive DNA, which makes it very difficult to be analysed. In fact, repeats are discarded in most genome-wide studies and thus, insights into this part ...

Recommended for you

User comments : 0