Cancer Stem Cells

This piece of good news is what this website is all about, even if it does take a decade before those who suffer this terminal disease can be helped. An article penned by Swain Science Editor for the Mirror caught my attention. His report (Mirror Friday 14th August 2009) goes something like this.

Piyush Gupta and researchers of the Broad Institute Boston have identified a chemical also known as a compound that can target stem cells selectively and kill them. It would appear that the growth of cancer stem cells are controlled by what they call ‘Mother Cells’ which have been invincible in resisting both radiation and chemotherapy treatment.

It is believed that many solid tumor cancers which include breast, prostate, bowel, and lung cancer are driven and renewed by stem cell parents. The experiments were carried out on breast cancer before a chemical that worked was found. These ‘Mother Cells’ as I have already mentioned have proved invincible to defeat, that is until now. They have finally found one, a chemical known as salinomycin, which attacked the cancer stem cells and was 100 times more effective than the powerful chemotherapy agent Taxol.

It wasn’t clear it would be possible to find compounds that selectively kill cancer stem cells. We’ve shown it can be done”. – Piyush Gupta, BIB

The researchers hope that their discovery of the chemical salinomycin will be included in a clinical drug in the future. It could also be used alongside conventional medication to stop the regrowth of tumors. Scientists believe targeting the tumor stem cells with this chemical salinomycin could possibly eradicate the source of cancer. When the chemical was injected into mice who had breast cancer it was found to slow the growth of the animal’s tumor.

Our work revels the biological effects of targeting cancer stem cells. It suggests a general approach to finding anti-cancer therapies that can be applied to any solid tumor maintained by cancer stem cells. – Piyush Gupta, BIB

Dr. John Stingl of Cancer Research UK’s Cambridge Research Institute reported as saying:

These scientists have demonstrated that it is possible to selectively target the rare cancer stem cells that drive tumor growth[sic]It is proof that you could target these cells. the challenge is can you bring this drug to the clinics?

To read the full report of this excellent piece of research news read Mike Swain’s report in full.

There is also a report on Nanotechnology. The technique works by inserting microscopic synthetic rods called carbon nanotubules into cancer cells. when the rods are exposed to infrared light from a laser they heat up destroying the cancer cell. If you want to read more check out this link to the BBC News website. This report was last updated a few years ago.