Scientists identify cancer stem cells

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stem cellsScientists in the US claim to have discovered a small group of cells in pancreatic cancer that are capable of fuelling tumour growth.

The research at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Centre (UMCCC) appears to be the first to successfully identify stem cells in pancreatic tumours.

Cancer stem cells are crucial to a tumour's development and it is hoped that successfully identifying them will lead to more effective treatment.

Pancreatic cancer has one of the worst survival rates among cancer types, making a potential breakthrough in this area all the more significant.

"Over the last one to two decades we have not had a significant improvement in the long-term survival rates with pancreatic cancer," said Dr Diane Simeone, director of the gastrointestinal oncology programme at the UMCCC and lead author of the study.

"I believe that if we can target cancer stem cells within pancreatic cancer we may have an avenue to really make a breakthrough in therapy for this awful disease."

Some researchers believe that existing cancer treatments are often unsuccessful because they fail to target the right cells.

Identifying and destroying cancer stem cells could have a significant impact on the slowing of tumour growth and as a result, boost survival rates.

The UMCCC study looked at cell markers on the surface of tumour cells and identified a small number that quickly produced new tumours – which the researchers believe are stem cells.

Full details of the study are published in this month's issue of Cancer Research.

source - In The News UK

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