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Study of Cancer Stem Cells Marks Paradigm Shift

Tackling the progenitors of cancer may be a step toward a cure

THURSDAY, June 12 (HealthDay News) -- The field of cancer stem cell research represents a paradigm shift in cancer diagnosis and treatment, according to a series of articles on the role of stem cells in various malignancies published in the June 10 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Bruce M. Boman, M.D., Ph.D., of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, and Max S. Wicha, M.D., of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, write that the new approach to cancer stem cells, unlike the traditional view, is not based on the concept that tumors are due to proliferation of cancer cells. Rather, they originate from a small number of long-lived cancer stem cells.

This new approach takes the view that dysregulation of the self-renewal process of cancer stem cells causes cancer; that cancer stem cells drive tumor growth; and that current cancer treatments do not target cancer stem cells, which appear to be drug-resistant, which in turn may explain why so many cancer treatments fail, Boman and Wicha write.

In the same issue, Gennadi V. Glinsky, M.D., Ph.D., of the Center for Medical Science in Albany, N.Y., writes that "stemness" genomics offer the hope of efficient diagnostic tests required to offer individualized cancer therapies. "A stemness cancer therapy outcome predictor algorithm combining scores of nine stemness signatures outperforms individual signatures and demonstrates a superior prognostic accuracy in retrospective supervised analysis of large cohorts of breast, prostate, lung and ovarian cancer patients," he writes.

Boman and Wicha disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies.

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