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Stem-Like Cells Identified in Benign Tumors

Cells have capability of generating new tumors in transplanted animals; show drug resistance

MONDAY, July 27 (HealthDay News) -- Benign tumors contain stem-like cells that can be serially transplanted to generate new tumors, suggesting that such cells in benign as well as malignant tumors may be targets for anti-tumor therapies, according to a study published in the July issue of the British Journal of Cancer.

Q. Xu, Ph.D. of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, and colleagues isolated stem-like cells from hormone-producing and non-producing pituitary tumors from eight patients and transplanted them into immune-deficient mice.

The researchers found that the stem-like cells generated new tumors that were genetically identical to the original tumors, and that the stem-like cells isolated from these new tumors generated genetically identical tumors after transplantation into other mice. They also found that the stem-like cells were resistant to chemotherapy, suggesting that stem-like cells may be partly responsible for cancer relapse in some types of cancer.

"The conclusions from this study may have applications to understanding pituitary tumors, as well as implications in cancer stem cell theory in general," the authors conclude.

The study was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health and the Italian Association for Neurological Research.

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