Attacking Cancer Stem Cells

Now that scientists are getting a handle on cancer stem cells, it comes time to develop the means to precisely attack these cells, and thereby strike at the root of cancer. EurekAlert! outlines one of many early attempts: "The most common type of brain cancer - glioblastoma - is marked by the presence of these stem-cell-like brain cells, which, instead of triggering the replacement of damaged cells, form cancer tissue. Stem cells, unlike all other cells in the body, are capable of forming almost any kind of cell when the right 'signals' trigger their development. For their treatment experiment, the researchers relied on a class of proteins, bone morphogenic proteins, that cause neural stem-cell-like clusters to lose their stem cell properties, which in turn stops their ability to divide." The first step to working the machine is understanding what the levers do; our understanding at this level is still very crude, but even this is sometimes enough to get the job done.



Post a comment; thoughtful, considered opinions are valued. New comments can be edited for a few minutes following submission. Comments incorporating ad hominem attacks, advertising, and other forms of inappropriate behavior are likely to be deleted.

Note that there is a comment feed for those who like to keep up with conversations.