Research by British scientists on cancer stem cells has brought new hope of developing drugs to fight the disease at its root, it has emerged.
Researchers at the University of Oxford found a new and quicker way to obtain cancer stem cells that can then be grown in a laboratory and further studied.
Dr Trevor Yeung, from the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine at Oxford University, said: “Cancer stem cells drive the growth of a tumour. If we could target treatments against these cells specifically, we should be able to eradicate cancer completely.”
Until now research has been slow, since the cells are difficult to identify and isolate from tumours.
This time the scientists isolated the stem cells from bowel cancer cell lines, rather than from patients’ tissue samples, which are harder to study and thus slowing down the work.
They found that the proportion of cancer stem cells within different bowel cancers varies widely, with aggressive tumours containing higher numbers.
The research was reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Copyright Press Association 2010