Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Cancer spread and stem cells

There's an article, "Breakthroughs seen in cancer spread and stem cells", by Carey Goldberg of The Boston Globe, September 9, 2008. Excerpts from the first page:
Mani and his colleagues at the MIT-affiliated Whitehead Institute found what appears to be a key to metastasis, the insidious process by which cancer spreads throughout the body and often kills. And, in a surprising spinoff, that same discovery also may lead to a relatively safe, simple way to transform normal adult cells into stem cells that could be used to treat other diseases.

The scientists believe their one-step method may avoid the risk of random mutation (and possibly cancer), a stumbling block for therapies based on other recently developed techniques for creating stem cells.
Excerpts from the second page of the same article:
For all his excitement, Weinberg readily acknowledged that Mani's line of investigation has yet to produce a "gold-standard proof" that the stem-like cells are actually stem cells. If their thinking is correct, he said, it should be possible to induce the key metamorphosis in some breast cells of one mouse, place them in another mouse's chest and develop a breast.

The experiment worked once, he said, but his lab has been unable to replicate it and ended up publishing its work in the leading biology journal Cell this May without that crowning proof.
The publication in Cell isn't cited, but it appears to be this one: "The epithelial-mesenchymal transition generates cells with properties of stem cells", by Sendurai A Mani and 14 co-authors, including Robert A Weinberg, Cell 2008(May 16); 133(4): 704-15 [PubMed Abstract]. Unfortunately, the publication isn't freely accessible.

It's been cited by a more recent article (also not freely accessible): "Epithelial-mesenchymal transition and the stem cell phenotype", by Derek C Radisky and Mark A LaBarg, Cell Stem Cell, 2008(Jun 5); 2(6): 511-2 [PubMed Abstract]. The Abstract:
Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a developmental process in which epithelial cells acquire the motile, migratory properties of mesenchymal cells. In a recent issue of Cell, Mani et al. (2008) show that induction of EMT stimulates cultured breast cells to adopt characteristics of stem cells.
A brief excerpt from the full text:
An exciting implication of these results is that there may be a direct relationship between EMT and the phenomenon of CSCs.
Comments on these articles would be welcomed.

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