Feeds

MIT whitecoats discover super-charged cancer cells

All cells are not created equal

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
Relive the death of Earth over and over again in Extinction Game
Apocalypse now, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.