Aberrant stem cells are a major source of cancer. But a new study suggests that the mature cells also play a key role in the initiation of tumor. This discovery may change scientific theory about the origins of oncologic diseases.
Researchers from the School of Medicine at Washington University in St. Louis have found that mature cells can behave more like the rapidly dividing stem cells. In this case, the old cells can carry with him all mutations, including mutations predisposing to the development of cancer cells.
A new study published in the «Gastroenterology» online magazine.
"As scientists, we focus more on understanding the role of stem cells in cancer development, but lost sight of the possibility of mature cells," - said a senior researcher Jason K. Mills, MD, Ph.D., professor of medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology. "The old cells can cause cancer when moving in rapidly dividing stem cell state."
The results of studies on mice and on human gastric cells raise questions about how cancer cells evade treatment.
Most of the methods of treatment of oncology are intended to stop the spread of cancer cells that divide rapidly. Such therapy is attacking stem cells, but do not necessarily prevent the transition of mature cells into stem cells.
"If I had a relapse, it could mean that the drug did not achieve the key mature cells that behave like stem" - says the first author of Megan Radyk, a graduate student Mills laboratory.
By studying mice with injuries to the stomach lining, the researchers blocked the ability of animal stem cells to call for help. They focused on that body, because Mills is a co-director of the National Institute of Health University of Washington, which supports the Center for Digestive Disorders and because the anatomy of the stomach facilitates the isolation of stem cells from mature cells. Even without the stem cells in mice have developed a precancerous condition because the mature cells of the abdomen to the back of the stem to heal the injury.
Analyzing samples from 10 human tissues with stomach cancer , the researchers found evidence that the same mature cells in the stomach back to the state of the stem and began to change quickly and degrade rapidly.
Mills laboratory is now working to identify drugs that can block a precancerous condition, preventing proliferation and division of mature cells.
"Knowing that these cells leads to an increase in cancer risk, we can find the medications that keep mature cells under control," - said Mills. "This could be important for cancer prevention is not only in the stomach, but also throughout the body."