What Cell Reprogramming Teaches Us About Cancer

As researchers continue to discover and manipulate the mechanisms of cell programming, the new knowledge generated will impact many other fields of medicine: "research links cancer development with difficulties in the new technology of reprogramming normal cells into becoming like embryonic stem cells ... Nearly all cancers have a disabled p53 gene. The gene causes cells that have experienced major genetic damage, which puts them at high risk of turning malignant, to self-destruct. While several mutated genes are implicated in cancer, p53 appears to be the most important one. ... When the p53 gene is removed, normal cells can be reprogrammed into stem cells with a tenfold greater success rate ... If the link is confirmed by other researchers, it would undermine a popular hypothesis that cancers arise from 'cancer stem cells,' caused by genetic changes in stem cells. [Instead] cancer could begin when normal cells spontaneously reprogram themselves, for reasons yet unknown, beginning the process that results in a cancerous tumor. ... A better understanding of how to cause reprogramming could provide clues about how this might arise spontaneously. And that knowledge could be useful in developing cancer-fighting therapies."

Link: http://www.nctimes.com/business/article_7df20b17-7092-56df-890e-2b47ee2758d5.html

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