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: Preserving crucial tern habitat in Long Island Sound

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Battling superbugs with gene-editing system

Sep 21, 2014

In recent years, new strains of bacteria have emerged that resist even the most powerful antibiotics. Each year, these superbugs, including drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis and staphylococcus, infect ...

New tool aids stem cell engineering for medical research

Aug 28, 2014

A Mayo Clinic researcher and his collaborators have developed an online analytic tool that will speed up and enhance the process of re-engineering cells for biomedical investigation. CellNet is a free-use Internet platform ...

Recommended for you

Preserving crucial tern habitat in Long Island Sound

7 minutes ago

Great Gull Island is home to one of the most important nesting habitats for Roseate and Common terns in the world. The estimated 1,300 pairs of Roseate terns that summer on the 17-acre island at the eastern ...

California's sea otter numbers holding steady

27 minutes ago

When a sea otter wants to rest, it wraps a piece of kelp around its body to hold itself steady among the rolling waves. Likewise, California's sea otter numbers are holding steady despite many forces pushing ...

Turning winery waste into biofuels

1 hour ago

Researchers at Swinburne University of Technology have developed a technique for converting winery waste into compounds that could have potential value as biofuels or medicines.

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.