24 December 2007

Stem cells linked to cancer?

Cancerous stem cells are the focus of a major new study that will be launched within the next few months in the US.

Cancerous stem cells are the focus of a preliminary study that will be launched within the next few months by scientists at three US medical centres: the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Centre, Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

Some experts believe that cancerous stem cells play a major role in maintaining and propagating malignant tumours, while others disagree, The New York Times reports.

Closer to religion
The cancerous stem cell hypothesis is closer to religion than science and proponents are so attached to the idea that they dismiss or ignore evidence against it, says Dr Scott E. Kern, a leading pancreatic cancer researcher at Johns Hopkins University.

But others say that developing new drugs that target cancerous stem cells may provide a treatment breakthrough.

"Within the next year, we will see medical centres targeting stem cells in almost every cancer," Dr Max S. Wicha, director of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Centre, told the Times. "We are so excited about this. It has become a major thrust of our cancer centre."

The US National Cancer Institute will provide $5.4 million in funding for cancer stem cell studies.

"If this is real, it could have almost immediate impact," Dr R. Allan Mufson, chief of the institute's Cancer Immunology and Haematology Branch, told the Times. – (HealthDayNews)

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Cancer Centre

December 2007


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