Using cell surface markers and dyes to identify cancer stem cells as well as normal adult stem cells in samples obtained from normal lung and lung cancer tissue samples, a Pittsburgh research team identified a very small, rare set of resting cancer stem cells in the lung cancer samples that looked and behaved much like normal adult lung tissue stem cells. Multiple drug resistance transporters protected both the cancer and normal stem cells equally, even if the bulk of the tumor responded to chemotherapy.
According to the team’s lead, McGowan Institute faculty member Vera Donnenberg, PhD, assistant professor of surgery and pharmaceutical sciences, University of Pittsburgh Schools of Medicine and Pharmacy, the very fact that cancers can and do relapse after apparently successful therapy indicates the survival of a drug-resistant, tumor-initiating population of cells in many types of refractory cancers. “Because of the similarities between the way that normal stem cells and cancer stem cells protect themselves, cancer therapies have to be designed specifically to target cancer stem cells while sparing normal stem cells,” she explained.
Illustration: McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
UPMC News Bureau (06/15/07)
Biology News Net (06/15/07)
Science Daily (06/17/07)