Lung stem cells vital to lung repair associated with poor cancer prognosis when found in tumor

Aug 17, 2010

Adult stem cells that are vital for airway repair in the lung but that persist in areas where pre-cancerous lesions are found are associated with a poor prognosis in patients who develop cancer, even those with early stage disease, researchers at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center have found.

These adult stem cells are found in repairing areas after injury and also are found in pre-cancerous areas, suggesting that these cells may mutate and become causing stem cells, making them a potential cell-of-origin for lung cancer and a possible target for prevention strategies and new targeted therapies.

The study found that when these adult stem cells are found in excised tumors, they are associated with a poor prognosis and could be used as markers to dictate the need for more aggressive treatment for those patients, said Brigitte Gomperts, an assistant professor of hematology/oncology, a Jonsson Cancer Center researcher and co-senior author of the study.

The presence of the adult stem cells in the tumors also was found to be associated with a higher likelihood that the cancer had spread to other organs.

"We can use the presence of these adult stems cells to identify patients with a high likelihood of relapse and risk of the cancer spreading, even in those where the tumor is small and can be entirely removed," said Gomperts, who is also a researcher with the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA.

The study appeared Aug. 15, 2010 in the peer-reviewed journal .

There is a growing body of evidence that shows many if not all cancers are caused by stem cells. Cancer stem cells are resistant to therapy and lie dormant, ramping up sometimes years later and recreating the tumor. If the cancer stem cells can be identified and studied, targeted therapies could be developed to kill them.

In this study, Gomperts and her team screened around 900 tumors removed from patients with non-small at UCLA and MD Anderson Cancer Center, looking to see whether the adult stem cells could be found in the tumor. In her lab, Gomperts is now studying the pre-cancerous lesions where the adult stem cells persist in an attempt to uncover the cascade of molecular events that may transform these cells into lung cancer stem cells.

More than 222,000 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year alone. Of those, more than 157,000 will die, according to the American Cancer Society.

"Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States and is responsible for more deaths each year than breast, prostate, colon, liver, kidney and skin cancers combined. The overall five-year survival for lung cancer is only 15%, and this is mostly due to cancer recurrence and distant spread of the cancer," Gomperts said. "This fits nicely with the idea that in the lung that are normally involved in repair become cancer stem cells, which are resistant to our conventional therapies. Having a targeted therapy to use against these cancer may be the key to reducing mortality from this disease."

Explore further: Team identifies source of most cases of invasive bladder cancer

Provided by University of California - Los Angeles

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

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.

Ovarian cancer stem cells identified, characterized

Apr 17, 2008

Researchers at Yale School of Medicine have identified, characterized and cloned ovarian cancer stem cells and have shown that these stem cells may be the source of ovarian cancer’s recurrence and its resistance to chemotherapy.

Herceptin targets breast cancer stem cells

Jul 09, 2008

A gene that is overexpressed in 20 percent of breast cancers increases the number of cancer stem cells, the cells that fuel a tumor's growth and spread, according to a new study from the University of Michigan Comprehensive ...

Therapy may block expansion of breast cancer cells

Nov 05, 2008

Breast cancer stem cells are known to be involved in therapy resistance and the recurrence of cancerous tumors. A new study appearing in Clinical and Translational Science shows the mechanisms governing stem cell expansion in bre ...

Recommended for you

Cancer stem cells linked to drug resistance

5 hours ago

Most drugs used to treat lung, breast and pancreatic cancers also promote drug-resistance and ultimately spur tumor growth. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered ...

Unraveling the 'black ribbon' around lung cancer

Apr 17, 2014

It's not uncommon these days to find a colored ribbon representing a disease. A pink ribbon is well known to signify breast cancer. But what color ribbon does one think of with lung cancer?

User comments : 0

More news stories

Less-schooled whites lose longevity, study finds

Barbara Gentry slowly shifts her heavy frame out of a chair and uses a walker to move the dozen feet to a chair not far from the pool table at the Buford Senior Center. Her hair is white and a cough sometimes interrupts her ...

How to keep your fitness goals on track

(HealthDay)—The New Year's resolutions many made to get fit have stalled by now. And one expert thinks that's because many people set their goals too high.

Low tolerance for pain? The reason may be in your genes

Researchers may have identified key genes linked to why some people have a higher tolerance for pain than others, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 66th Annual ...

AMA examines economic impact of physicians

(HealthDay)—Physicians who mainly engage in patient care contribute a total of $1.6 trillion in economic output, according to the American Medical Association (AMA)'s Economic Impact Study.

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.