Why cancer returns, new research uncovers the mechanism behind cancer’s return.

Why cancer returns, new research uncovers the mechanism behind cancer’s return.

New research now is indicating that a type of stem cell may be the reason for the return of cancer, even though the treatment seemed to eradicate the disease. As reported in the NJ Star ledger, apparently, our take on the current research needs to be rethought. Check this out.

Cancer debate: Are tumors fueled by stem cells?

Aug. 1, 2012, 2:33 p.m. EDT
AP

NEW YORK (AP) — How can a cancer come back after it’s apparently been eradicated? Three new studies are bolstering a long-debated idea: that tumors contain their own pool of stem cells that can multiply and keep fueling the cancer, seeding regrowth.

If that’s true, scientists will need to find a way to kill those cells, apart from how they attack the rest of the tumor.

Stem cells in healthy tissues are known for their ability to produce any kind of cell. The new research deals with a different kind, cancer stem cells. Some researchers, but not all, believe they lurk as a persisting feature in tumors.

Over the past decade, studies have found evidence for them in tumors like breast and colon cancers. But this research has largely depended on transplanting human cancer cells into mice that don’t have immune systems, an artificial environment that raises questions about the relevance of the results.

Now, three studies reported online Wednesday in the journals Nature and Science present evidence for cancer stem cells within the original tumors. Again, the research relies on mice. That and other factors mean the new findings still won’t convince everyone that cancer stem cells are key to finding more powerful treatments.

But researcher Luis Parada, of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, believes his team is onto something. He says that for the type of brain tumor his team studied, “we’ve identified the true enemy.”

If his finding applies to other cancers, he said, then even if chemotherapy drastically shrinks a tumor but doesn’t affect its supply of cancer stem cells, “very little progress has actually been made.”

The three studies used labeling techniques to trace the ancestry of cells within mouse tumors.

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