The rather new concept of "tumor stem cells" maintains that a rare, stem cell-like population of cancer cells exists among the mix of other cells found in a tumor and that these tumor stem cells are responsible for tumor progression and metastasis. In a revolutionary study appearing in the June 1 print issue of The Journal of Clinical Investigation, Gennadi Glinsky and colleagues from the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center evaluated 1122 cancer patients diagnosed with 10 different types of cancer.
The researchers used genetic approaches to identify an 11-gene BMI-1-pathway signature, which determines normal stem cell proliferation and which also consistently displays a stem cell-like expression profile in metastatic tumors in a mouse cancer model as well as metastatic tumors from prostate cancer patients. The results show that a stem cell-like expression profile of the 11-gene signature in primary tumors is a very consistent and powerful predictor of a short interval to disease recurrence, metastasis, and death after therapy in cancer patients diagnosed with ten distinct types of cancer.
This work indicates that the presence of the conserved BMI-1-associated gene expression pathway that exists in a very malignant subset of human cancers predicts a marked predisposition toward metastasis and a high probability of poor therapy outcome. In an accompanying commentary, Gordon Mills and others write, "such a "magic marker" [will] have a major impact on patient care."
Source: Eurekalert & othersLast reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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