[extropy-chat] Arresting Stem Cells May Trump Tumor Shrinkage in Rating Cancer Treatments, Researcher Says

Technotranscendence neptune at superlink.net
Tue Mar 20 12:24:49 UTC 2007

>From http://www.nccn.org/about/news/newsinfo.asp?NewsID=103

"Failure to recognize the role of stem cells in metastasis may have led
cancer researchers up “blind alleys” in countless clinical trials, said
Max S. Wicha, M.D., founding director and distinguished professor of
internal medicine at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer
Center, speaking at the National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s 12th
Annual Conference.

"With tumor shrinkage the primary guidepost of any new treatment,
valuable therapies may be aborted too early in their experimental life,
he said. At the same time, clinical-trial measurements that focus only
on a tumor’s diminishing size may explain why some new therapeutic
treatments have failed to work. If the tumor’s stem cells run amok even
as the tumor’s girth diminishes, a patients’ life may be at stake.

"The answer? Begin monitoring whether chemotherapy and radiation
treatments work to arrest cancer’s stem cells and their progenitors –
i.e., those cells that can make exact copies of themselves and
“differentiate” to play specific roles. Then find ways to make
chemotherapy and radiation treatments more powerfully target the tumor’s
stem cells while sparing healthy stem cells the body needs.

"“In any organ, the stem cells give rise to all the other cells,” Wicha
explained. “This process in the body is normally highly regulated.” He
and his colleagues at the University of Michigan School of Medicine
speculate that cancer arises because of some disruption during the
self-renewal or differentiation process.

"In tracking the origins of cancer, the common “stochastic model” holds
that any of the body’s cells can mutate and begin growing wildly. In
contrast, the “cancer stem-cell model,” with its emphasis on stem cells
being the only locus of cancer, reactivates a 100-year-old theory, Wicha
said. Flow cytometry and other sophisticated laboratory methods have
allowed the hypothesis to be tested. “Within cancer, are stem cells
driving the malignancy?” Wicha asked, framing the current evolution of
cancer stem-cell research."

This sounds pretty interesting and might explain the seemingly slow
progress in cancer research.



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