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Scientists have duplicated the self-renewal of stem cells to artificially create prostate cancer in a bid to find the root causes of the disease.
A team from the University of California at Los Angeles said the recreation of the process could help fine tune new anti-cancer drugs. They extracted stem cells from prostate tissue and engineered specific genetic changes into the cells to generate cancer.
The fact that stem cells self-renew makes their DNA open to collecting mistakes in the genetic code.
The ability to produce cancer “from scratch” is expected to boost efforts to find agents that combat the disease, which affects around 35,000 men each year in the UK and causes 10,000 deaths. Scientists believe most cancers are driven by “rogue” stem cells – the immature “mother” cells that develop into different kinds of tissue.
“Here you can pre-programme the genetic buffet and then evaluate a compound in the face of those specific changes,” said team leader Dr Owen Witte.
Dr Witte presented his research at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Diego, California.
Copyright Press Association 2010