Dr. Weeks’ Comment: Ask your doctor and oncologist about the importance of treating cancer STEM cells and not simply cancer TUMOR cells.
Diverse approach to cancer research need of the hour, stresses professor
Profoundly different approaches are needed for cancer research, the Qatar International Conference on Stem Cell Science and Policy 2012, has been told by an expert in cancer stem cell (CSC) biology.
Professor Irving Weissman, director, Stanford Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, Stanford University, was delivering a keynote address on ”˜Normal and neoplastic stem cells’ yesterday.
“Self-renewal is the principal property that distinguishes stem cells from their daughter cells,” he said while explaining that when stem cells divide they give rise to stem cells (by self-renewal) and progenitors (by differentiation).
The balance between self-renewal and differentiation is what generates, and then maintains, tissues enabling them to respond to injury or other stressors.
Studies identifying hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) – which form blood and immune cells – and progenitors, have made hematopoiesis one of the best systems for studying the molecular changes in cell fate decision-making and creation of cancer.
Further, it serves as a paradigm for finding preclinical and clinical platforms for tissue and organ replacement and regeneration. Stem cell isolation and transplantation is the basis for regenerative medicine. Self-renewal is dangerous and therefore strictly regulated. Poorly regulated self-renewal can lead to the genesis of CSC ”” the only cells within a tumour or leukaemia that have the ability to self renew, and therefore the cells that maintain the cancer.
“Thus, it is predicted that CSC elimination is required for cure. This prediction necessitates profoundly different approaches to cancer research, compelling investigators to prospectively isolate CSCs and to characterise the molecular pathways regulating their behaviour in order to identify targeted and truly effective therapies,” Weissman added.
A founder of three companies – SyStemix, Cellerant, and Stem Cells Inc – all focused on bringing stem cell therapies into the clinic, Weissman has authored more than 700 scientific articles and has been an editor of multiple scientific journals.