Monday, September 30, 2013

Targeting Cancer Stem Cells: An Experimental New Approach

“New Approach to Treating Human Brain Cancer Could Lead to Improved Outcomes” – that’s the headline of a press release from the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute (Sanford-Burnham).

According to the release, “The method targets cancer stem cells—the cells that are critical for maintaining tumor growth—and halts their ability to proliferate by inhibiting enzymes that are essential for tumor progression. The process destroys the ability of the cancer cells to grow and divide, paving the way for a new type of treatment for patients with this disease.”

The press release says that “The research team, led by Robert Wechsler-Reya, Ph.D., professor in Sanford-Burnham’s NCI-Designated Cancer Center and director of the Tumor Initiation and Maintenance Program, discovered that the medulloblastoma cancer cells responsible for tumor growth and progression (called cancer stem cells or tumor-propagating cells—TPCs) divide more quickly than normal cells. Correspondingly, they have higher levels of certain enzymes that regulate the cell cycle (Aurora and Polo-like kinases). 

By using small-molecule inhibitors to stop the action of these enzymes, the researchers were able to block the growth of tumor cells from mice as well as humans. The research findings are described in an online paper published September 25 by Cancer Research.”

While I am no scientist, this sounds like the research team either read Clifton Leaf’s insightful book, The Truth in Small Doses, or just plain indulged in some smart problem solving.

Image credit: <a href=''>lightwise / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

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