Research in Nature casts doubt on whether cancer stem cells alone encourage tumour development in melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.
In recent years, many researchers have found that some cancers, including breast, bowel and prostate, have a small sub-population of 'stem-like' cells that drives the formation of the rest of the tumour. The evidence for this was the observation that only a tiny proportion of cells taken from a given tumour could spark the development of new cancers when transplanted into mice.
Sean Morrison and colleagues transplanted cells from 12 melanoma patients into mice, and found that around one-quarter of melanoma cells were able to trigger new cancers. The finding suggests that a wide variety of cell types within a melanoma is able to fuel the cancer's growth, and could have implications for therapies that target only cancer stem cells.
Sean Morrison (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA)
Connie Eaves (British Columbia Cancer Research Centre, Vancouver, Canada) N&V author(C) Nature press release.
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