Cancer stem cell research is something that we should be watching with interest, if only because an immense amount of money and time is now devoted to the broader field of stem cell medicine. New research into cancer therapies that overlap with the science behind regenerative medicine is likely to move fast over the next decade. As I'm sure we're all aware, curing cancer is high on the list of things we need to accomplish on the way to radical life extension. The forseeable technologies of regenerative medicine will, on their own, only allow you long enough to certainly die from cancer - unless we do something about it.
A recent New Scientist article mentions some aggressive goals for this sort of work:
Cancer treatments could improve by targeting cancer "stem cells" which give birth to all other cells in tumours.
Now, new techniques to do this developed at the University of Cambridge, UK, and Kumamoto University, Japan, have been licensed for commercialisation to Stemline, a biotechnology company in New York, US.
"Once we have eradicated the cancer stem cells, in essence we have destroyed the engine responsible for treatment failure and disease recurrence, the major problems for fighting cancer," says Ivan Bergstein, chief executive of Stemline.
But it could be five years before the first treatments start to come through, warns Toru Kondo, head of the team at the University of Cambridge which pioneered the two new tests.
Five years is fast in the world of medical research - this is just another of the many areas in which advancing biotechnology and knowledge is producing real results.