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: Drought causes birds to nest later, reducing nesting success

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Baby cells learn to communicate using the lsd1 gene

Dec 15, 2014

We would not expect a baby to join a team or participate in social situations that require sophisticated communication. Yet, most developmental biologists have assumed that young cells, only recently born ...

Stem cells born out of indecision

Dec 18, 2014

Scientists at the University of Copenhagen have gained new insight into embryonic stem cells and how blocking their ability to make choices explains why they stay as stem cells in culture. The results have just been published ...

Recommended for you

Devising a way to count proteins as they group

5 hours ago

A new study from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and University of California Berkeley researchers reports on an innovative theoretical methodology to solve "the counting problem," which is key to understanding ...

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.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.