On Skin Cancer Stem Cells

Many cancers are driven by cancer stem cells, and these errant stem cell populations have characteristic differences that can be exploited. From the Telegraph: "A new way to fight a common form of skin cancer has resulted from the discovery of how the uncontrollable growth of the tumour is driven by rogue cells. ... a protein known as beta-catenin is crucial for sustaining these cancer stem cells - in genetically engineered animals without this protein, the tumours shrink because there is no longer a signal to tell the cells to keep renewing themselves. The team's discovery may open up a possible route to treating this type of skin cancer in humans by blocking this protein because they found that squamous cell carcinomas - the human equivalent of the mouse tumours - also rely on beta-catenin. As the stem cells responsible for renewing normal skin do not depend on beta-catenin, targeting this molecule could help wipe out the cancer stem cells in a malignant tumour."

Link: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml?xml=/earth/2008/04/02/sciskin102.xml

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