Feeds

MIT whitecoats discover super-charged cancer cells

All cells are not created equal

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Scientists at MIT report a breakthrough in growing so called cancer stem cells that could aid research into the disease.

The researchers have found a way to grow large quantities of cells that initiate tumours. These are not normally available in large quantities, so the discovery could be a real boon to those who study them.

The work also suggests that some normal cells, once they become cancerous, are more prone to becoming stem cells than others. These cells are also more likely to cause the cancer to spread from one part of the body to another, the researchers said.

MIT biology professor Robert Weinberg says these findings run contrary to conventional wisdom that any cell can, with the right alterations and mutations, become malignant and acquire the ability to spread to other tissues.

The discovery was somewhat serendipitous. Tan Ince, the researcher who first engineered the "stem cells", did not set out to do so.

As a postdoc in Weinberg's lab, Ince was trying to create breast cancer models that look right under the microscope and behave as they do in patients. To this end he developed a new culture medium to grow a type of breast cell that normally dies in culture.

After following standard procedure and inserting a few genes to make the cell cancerous, Ince discovered that he had created a particularly powerful carcinogen. Tests on mice saw the rodents quickly develop massive, fatal tumours that spread to other tissues, even when the mice were injected with as few as 100 cancerous cells.

Ordinarily, scientists expect to see no effect with fewer than a million cells injected.

"The operational definition of a cancer stem cell is the ability to initiate a tumour, so these are cancer stem cells," Weinberg says.

The work is published in the 13 August edition of Cancer Cell. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Scale data protection with your virtual environment
To scale at the rate of virtualization growth, data protection solutions need to adopt new capabilities and simplify current features.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?