Scientists can now differentiate between healthy cells and cancer cells

Jan 05, 2009

One of the current handicaps of cancer treatments is the difficulty of aiming these treatments at destroying malignant cells without killing healthy cells in the process. But a new study by McMaster University researchers has provided insight into how scientists might develop therapies and drugs that more carefully target cancer, while sparing normal healthy cells.

Mick Bhatia, scientific director of the McMaster Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute in the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, and his team of investigators have demonstrated - for the first time - the difference between normal stem cells and cancer stem cells in humans.

The discovery, published in the prestigious journal Nature Biotechnology today, could eventually help with the further customization and targeting of cancer treatments for the individual patient. It will immediately provide a model to discover drugs using robotic screening for available molecules that may have untapped potential to eradicate cancer.

"Normal stem cells and cancer stem cells are hard to tell apart, and many have misconstrued really good stem cells for cancer stem cells that have gone bad - we now can tell the ones masquerading as normal stem cells from the bad, cancerous ones," said Bhatia.

"This also allows us to compare normal versus cancer stem cells from humans in the laboratory - define the differences in terms of genes they express and drugs they respond to. Essentially, we can now use this to find the "magic bullet", a drug or set of drugs that kill cancer stem cells first, and spare the normal healthy ones," he said.

"McMaster is uniquely positioned for this discovery platform, and this was the missing ingredient - we have one of the best screening/robotic platforms, chemical libraries and expertise in professors Eric Brown and Gerry Wright, who have discovered molecules to combat infectious disease. Now we can combine it all. This team now aims to kill cancer."

Source: McMaster University

Explore further: Bulletproof nuclei? Stem cells exhibit unusual absorption property

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Analyzing living cells quickly and accurately

Apr 02, 2014

In order to investigate inflammation, tumors or stem cells, medical practitioners analyze living cells. Non-invasive optical procedures such as Raman spectroscopy accelerate this procedure. Researchers have ...

Recommended for you

Plants with dormant seeds give rise to more species

Apr 18, 2014

Seeds that sprout as soon as they're planted may be good news for a garden. But wild plants need to be more careful. In the wild, a plant whose seeds sprouted at the first warm spell or rainy day would risk disaster. More ...

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

fixer
not rated yet Jan 05, 2009
Welcome to planet earth,but we already know the major difference between normal and cancer cells. Its IRON.
E_L_Earnhardt
not rated yet Jan 05, 2009
A THERMOMETER can tell the difference, but it's got to be a darned GOOD one!
denijane
not rated yet Jan 12, 2009
Ok, why do we have to read publicity articles? You don't mention anything important beside that they are all very excited. Well, very informative, thank you very much. Next time try to discuss the science for a change.

More news stories

Biologists help solve fungi mysteries

(Phys.org) —A new genetic analysis revealing the previously unknown biodiversity and distribution of thousands of fungi in North America might also reveal a previously underappreciated contributor to climate ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.