This recent discovery actually makes a lot of sense: errant stem cells are often the cause of cancers and tumors, and therefore should be better targeted with chemotherapy. Stem cells are the precursors to all tissues, good and bad, and many cancers could be considered the result of stem cells’ division process gone awry. Suddenly, stem cells may be producing massive amount of cells with no particularly purpose, which don’t belong, and actually destory healthy normal cells. This is often the result of genetic mutations caused by chemicals, age, radiation, UV exposure, genetic predisposition, viruses, etc.
[Studies] has repeatedly shown that, contrary to conventional wisdom, only abnormal stem cells can sprout and sustain tumours by renewing themselves indefinitely. Without signals from cancer stem cells, ordinary tumour cells seem to stop growing. What’s more, some experiments have found these bad seeds to be highly resistant to standard cancer therapies, including radiation, medicine’s nuclear weapon.
This raises the question: are cancer therapies targeting the wrong cells? And is this why some cancers return following a bout of treatment and remission?
“Killing 98 per cent of tumour cells on a scan may look good, but that 2 per cent could be enough to grow the cancer back,” said Jeremy Rich, a neuro-oncologist and cancer researcher at Duke University in North Carolina.
Studies related to this are available via advanced online publication in the journal Nature:
A human colon cancer cell capable of initiating tumour growth in immunodeficient mice
Catherine A. O’Brien, Aaron Pollett, Steven Gallinger and John E. Dick
Identification and expansion of human colon-cancer-initiating cells
Lucia Ricci-Vitiani, Dario G. Lombardi, Emanuela Pilozzi, Mauro Biffoni, Matilde Todaro, Cesare Peschle and Ruggero De Maria
Hat tip Bob Abu