On Cancer Stem Cells

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.


I wonder if I may, inquire about the latest research info on such drugs as Herceptin and Iressa along with similar treatment modalities involving cell signaling. If cell communication and such things as growth factors are intrinisic to cancer proliferation (as well as stem cell signaling) why am I not aware of high success rates for most cancers into long term remission. I have more than perused the literature and spoken to oncologists, biochemists and molecular scientists involved in the relevant research. Might I be bold enough to say that we are still being too general about cancer pathology and its' mechanisms of survival??? (if you will) Maybe it is through cell (stem cell and/or otherwise) and gene therapy appropriating the right vector to repress the spread of this illness... but what is being missed? I am not a professional who can speculate (and taken seriously) but as bio-chemistry (dual major) and a voracoius curiousity into the world of inncurable pathologies I must attempt nonetheless to apply my knowledge(limited though it may be) and expansive imagination and wonder if infact science and medicine are taking the proper course in dealing with cancer, alzheimers, heart disease etc... is it possible to modify KLH priciples in order for more specific cytokine expression recognising cancer and sparing sourrounding tissues? Can infact negative feedback mechanisms be more carefully observed and utilised in reversing errant mitotic events? What about utilizing free radicals (maybe not singulate oxygen) in a more narrow manner to free healthy cells from such oxidation. Also I am curious (from the serious professional the extent to which nutrients really are linked to prevention and slowing of progression of cancer) thank you for entertaing a young college students' ramling with information needed.... sincerely; Jacob Mack

Posted by: Jacob Mack at February 2nd, 2005 10:54 AM

There is growing knowledge about cancer stem cells as the cause of cancers. Latest report states prostate cancer stem cells found, Dec 05. So, if cancers are caused by these stem cells, then research needs to focus on these stem cells to come up with treatments which should eradicate the cancers. Finally, we may see some cures in cancer. Like a weed, if you kill the root of a weed, which is like the stem cells, then you eliminate the cancer. Just hope researchers do not delay research breakthroughs. There actually are some trials starting up.

Posted by: Nicolas Padron at December 4th, 2005 11:06 AM
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