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A systematic research method for cancer stem cells

The researchers found that terminally differentiated non-cancerous human stem cells were reprogrammed in culture to show characteristics associated with cancer stem cells, which promoted tumor growth when injected into mice. The new method, published online in the August issue of nature cell biology, could be used to study certain types of cancer.

Experimental evidence suggests that parts of a cell with a specific characteristic of differentiation, called cancer stem cells, contribute to the growth of some tumours. Proteins expressed during the growth of cancer cells show certain characteristics that induce human cells that are initially non-cancerous to form tumors in tumor mice. Paola Scaffidi and Tom Misteli found that the expression of this protein induces a small subset of cells to form a primitive ground state that has self-renewal properties. When injected into mice, these cells had the ability to produce more differentiated cell types. These particular subsets of cells therefore share the characteristics of cancer stem cells, which contribute to tumorigenesis in certain cancers. The researchers speculate that the system could be extended to cancer research.
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