Weissman to Stanford

Dr. Weeks’ Comment: Irving Weissman was the scientist who introduced to me the bewilderingly elegant connect of the stem cell which has inspired, in 1987, a certain poem of reconciliation. Now he takes his focus on cancer stem cells to Stanford as director of the Ludwig Center focusing on cancer STEM cells. CD47  a “don’t eat me signal” and thus we are closer to focusing on the real cancer threat – not the caner TUMOR cells, but the actual lethal cancer STEM cells.   



Stem cells

My laboratory was first to identify and isolate the blood-forming stem cell [HSC] from mice, and has defined, by lineage analysis, the stages of development between the stem cells and mature progeny. My laboratories have also discovered the human HSC, a human brain-forming stem cell population, mouse skeletal muscle stem cells, and an osteochondral stem cell in mice. I have worked in cancer research since 1977, and more recently have concentrated on cancer stem-cell biology. In recent years, my work has included studying the potential of CD47 as a cancer therapeutic, and identifying cancer stem cells from a variety of blood and solid cancers. My colleagues and I have found that CD47, a “don’t-eat-me” signal, is highly expressed beginning in the latter stages of progression of cancer stem cells from the benign to the highly malignant state, and this counteracts “eat me” signals on preneoplastic and highly malignant cancer cells, presumably as part of the evolution of cancer clones driven by self-renewing subsets of cells in the cancer. This research brings into focus the primary role of phagocytic cells such as macrophages of the innate immune system, in tumor surveillance.

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