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September 5, 2005

New Lnk Between Stem Cells And Tumors

Topics: Medicine

Results of a study conducted by researchers at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany, show that loss of function of any of several genes that control the fate of a stem cell's daughters may result in hyperproliferation, triggering a chain of events that subverts cell homeostasis in a general sense and leads to cancer.

[Left: Normal dividing neuroblasts create a large new cell and a smaller cell destined to become part of a nerve. Right: If molecules aren't put in the right places, this asymmetric division doesn't occur and a tumor develops.]

Cells in the very early embryo are interchangeable and undergo rapid division. Soon, however, they begin differentiating into more specific types, finally becoming specialized cells like neurons, blood, or muscle. As they differentiate, they should stop dividing and usually become embedded in particular tissues. Some tumor cells are more like stem cells because they are identical, they divide quickly, and in the worst case ­ metastasize ­and wander through the body and implant themselves in new tissues. If key molecules aren't placed in the right locations within stem cells before they divide, the result can be deadly tumors.

The study suggests new lines of investigation into the relationship between stem cells and tumors in model organisms and humans, other than "Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly)."


Posted by Richard at September 5, 2005 2:52 PM

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