The hedgehog signalling pathway helps to maintain leukaemia stem cells, which are the very cells that spread the disease, Tannishtha Reya and colleagues report. When a small inhibitory molecule is used to disrupt the pathway in a mouse model, the cancer stem cells become depleted.The publication referred to is: Hedgehog signalling is essential for maintenance of cancer stem cells in myeloid leukaemia by Chen Zhao and 13 co-authors, including Catriona H Jamieson and Tannishtha Reya, Nature 2009(Jan 25) [Epub ahead of print][PubMed Citation].
Added February 10, 2009: Self-renewing blood and leukaemia cells need hedgehog by Simone Alves, Nature Reports Stem Cells, February 5, 2009.
Added February 24, 2009: Cancer stem cells: Killing hedgehog to treat CML by Emily J Chenette, Nature Reviews Cancer 2009(Mar); 9: 148-9.
2) Stalling cell division keeps leukaemia stem cells going by Monya Baker, Nature Reports Stem Cells, January 8, 2009. [The full text is publicly accessible]. The first paragraph:
To sustain disease, leukemia stem cells have to keep on dividing. To do so cells require a counterintuitive resource: a protein that keeps cells from proliferating. Work reported in Nature this month shows that, by giving cancer stem cells a chance to slow down and repair DNA damage, the protein p21, a cell-cycle inhibitor, not only helps cancer maintain itself, it helps leukemia evade therapies designed to kill rapidly dividing cells. Drugs that inhibit p21 or DNA repair, then, might help leukemia speed up and self destruct.The publication referred to is: Cell-cycle restriction limits DNA damage and maintains self-renewal of leukaemia stem cells by Andrea Viale and 13 co-authors, including Pier Giuseppe Pelicci, Nature 2009(Jan 1); 457(7225): 51-6 [PubMed Citation].
Added February 10, 2009: Regulation of leukemic stem cells self-renewal and quiescence - the role of p21 by Lei Ying, Hematopoiesis, February 8, 2009.