Cancer Stem Cells
Unraveling Brain Tumors — Molecular Biologists Devise Strategy To Starve Brain Tumors
Daily Science September 1, 2007 — Brain tumor researchers have found that brain tumors arise from cancer stem cells living within tiny protective areas formed by blood vessels in the brain. Killing those cells is a promising strategy to eliminate tumors and prevents them from re-growing. The researchers have found that drugs that block new blood vessel formation can destroy the protected areas and stop cancer from developing.
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Scientists used to think that all tumour cells are the same. But in recent years, they have discovered that a small group of cancer stem cells give rise to all the cells within a tumour. These cells reside in proximity to blood vessels which fuel them. In lab experiments, drugs that target these blood vessels also lead to destruction of the cancer stem cells and ultimately wipe out the tumour. Drugs like Avastin and Tarceva are now being tested in humans to see if they can specifically target the stem cells. This approach is less disruptive than conventional cancer treatment methods like radiation and chemotherapy, which try to eliminate all cancer cells and surrounding normal cells but could still result in a resurgence of the disease.