After treatment of the primary tumor, some cancer stem cells may remain in the body metastasize and cause the recurrence of cancer in a more aggressive and resistant to forms of treatment. Researchers from the University of Illinois have developed a molecular probe that looks for these cells and highlights them. Because of this cell can be identified, to monitor and study not only in cell cultures but also in the home environment - a living organism.
In an article published in «ACS Central Science» magazine, scientists have described the effectiveness of the probe in the identification of cancer stem cells in the cultures of multiple human cell lines and in the body of living mice.
While other commercial agents are able to mark cancer stem cells, their use is limited. Some of them can not distinguish between live and dead cells, while others are associated with faulty goals. The most popular antibodies that are looking for markers on the cell surface, do not always reach small areas where the cancer stem cells tend to hide. All these agents are designed for use in cell cultures or tumor artificial environments, but not in a complex living organism.
New probe, AlDeSense, in contrast, is a small molecule, which finds enzymes associated with stemness phenomenon in cancer cells. It is activated only when entering into a reaction with the enzyme, which is produced by cancer stem cells in large quantities.
In a series of experiments, the researchers found that the enzyme appears to be a marker of stemminess in many types of cancer. This means that AlDeSense can be widely used in clinical imaging.
The researchers demonstrated that AlDeSense compatible with two major cellular techniques - flow cytometry and confocal imaging. They also used a probe to identify cancer stem cells in tissues taken from mice as a result of the biopsy, and in live mice with metastatic tumors.
AlDeSense allows you to see how cancer stem cells differentiate and grow. The study shows that the properties of stem retained even after the cancer metastasizes. That is, some features of the environment support cancer stem cells. Now, with the help of AlDeSense, scientists can be profiled this Wednesday.
In the future, the researchers plan to investigate whether using a probe to predict survival in dogs with lymphoma. They are also going to develop a probe with other functions, such as the selective destruction of cancer stem cells.