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Stem Cells At The Core of Cancer? 159

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the heart-of-the-matter dept.
davecb writes "The Globe and Mail reports that cancers have at their core a small number of stem cells, without which they cannot spread or reoccur. From the article: 'A spate of new discoveries about the basic biology of cancer is pushing researchers toward an astonishing conclusion: For decades, efforts to cure the disease may have targeted the wrong cells.' If true, the discoveries of Canadian and Italian research groups may give us a new path to selectively attack cancer."
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Stem Cells At The Core of Cancer?

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  • Cancer cells typically mutate in such a way that they reproduce uncontrollably. Often, this coincides with the original cancer cell "de-differentiating" (integrating? :) ) into a sort of stem cell, which allows them to reproduce infinitely. So yes, it would be understandable that a stem cell would have stem cells at its core. IANAB (I am not a biologist), but this sounds like redundant information to me, at least to some extent. What took them so long to figure this out? And, aren't all tumor cells pretty
    • by Xiph (723935)
      bleat, forgot to mention. it also discusses how current treatments are better at targeting regular cells than it is at targeting stem cells :P
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      IANAB (I am not a biologist), but this sounds like redundant information to me

      Did you at least read the scientific paper, or did you base your conclusion on an article from the Globe and Mail?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @06:41AM (#16928202)
      Often, this coincides with the original cancer cell "de-differentiating"

      This is the statement that's currently being debated; it's been basically assumed for a number of years that cancer was a differentiated cell that suddenly regained the ability to divide; the field is now warming to the idea that instead of cancer starting with a differentiated cell, it starts when a stem cell loses the control mechanisms that tell it "stop dividing now / divide slower". The mechanistic idea is the same (loses checkpoints, overexpressed growth factors, etc etc), but if it is truly only the stem cells that cause cancers, it's both interesting for a cancer treatment perspective (you don't have to target the entire cancer, just target the stem-like cancer cells), but also important for a stem cell therapy perspective, since it's a bad idea to inject people with stem cells primed for growth if they're going to have a massive risk of becoming cancerous.
      • The problem of the "cancer cells were stem cells in the first place" hypothesis is that it contradicts several facts :

        1. Difference between stages in cancer when observed in the microscope.
        Earliest signs are that you see more cells dividing than usually expected for a given volume.
        Early stages of cancer show normal cells, but in more quantity than expected.
        Latter stages also show normal cells, but the overall structures between cells is lost.
        Then you have cells that exhibit stranges features.
        The more advanc
    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      IANAB also but, from my understanding :
      Almost every cell of the human body can reproduce
      A cancer is a group of cells reproducing in an abnormal fashion
      A stem cell is a cell than can reproduce into a variety of different cells, eventually being able to become any type of human cell

      Also I think this discovery is interesting from the point of view of the creation of stem cells for an adult. Stem cells may be used in some kind of treatment in the near future as I understand, but an adult body doesn't conta
    • Often, this coincides with the original cancer cell "de-differentiating" (integrating? :) ) into a sort of stem cell, which allows them to reproduce infinitely.

      For NBAB (not being a biologist) that sentence seems to have a lot of conviction. Where'd you learn it?

      Perhaps this is the necessary duplicated research for this to start becoming a scientific consesus.

      BTW, that integrating thing was cute, but would have been more technically correct if you had used "antidifferentiating" instead. ;)

      OT: Why was the p
    • by Ihlosi (895663)
      Often, this coincides with the original cancer cell "de-differentiating" (integrating? :) ) into a sort of stem cell,

      There are various degrees of "de-differentiation" (which means that the cancer cell loses the properties of the cells that make up the tissue it originally came from, like receptors). The worst case is turning into something completely unrecognizable. The more similarity to the original the cancer cells retain, the better is the outlook for treatment, because the cancer cells might still re

    • by fupeg (653970) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @12:45PM (#16932856)
      You didn't RTFA, did you? (Yeah I know, it's Slashdot. Clearly the people who modded you didn't RTFA either.) From TFA:
      current therapies treat colon cancer as a "homogeneous entity, not every colon cancer cell has the ability to keep that tumour going; only one in 60,000."
    • by bubblewrapgrl (189933) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @12:55PM (#16933160)
      IAAB (I am a biologist). From what I've learned, what allows cancer cells to divide indefinitely is that there are mutations in the proteins that control the cell cycle. Normally, there are proteins that inhibit the cell from continual division. However, in many cases, these proteins are mutated and can no longer perform their functions allowing the cancer cell to divide indefinitely. Unfortunately, they are not all the same. There can be several causes to why they behave like cancer cells. Mutations in these proteins are only one cause.

      The cancer cells are still the same type of cell they were before they became cancerous. For example, in skin cancer, the cancerous cells are still skin cells. This has been noted when metastasis occurs.
    • IANAB as well but I've known several stem cell researchers for years now and never heard of "de-differentiating;" I believe you're making that up to understand the infinite division of cancer cells. Any cell can divide infinitely - not just stem cells. Stem cells are unique for a different reason: they can differentiate into any of the category of cell they belong to (embryonic can become truly any cell).

      Typically biologists, upon discovering a cell they're interested in, "make it immortal" by what is somet
  • summary (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Xiph (723935) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @05:36AM (#16927818)
    Anyone answering above this post have not have time to read the article, here's the summary: The article is about research into whether or not cancerous stemcells are necessary for cancer growth. It discusses (biased) that they are, and talks briefly about where in the body you'll find stem cells and what they do. then finishes of with presenting a (in my non-medical view) convincing animal study, showing that when cancer cells are injected into mice, it was predominantly the mice who were injected with cancerous stem cells which showed cancer growth, while only one mouse (in 47) injected with cancerous non-stem cells showed a growing cancer.
    • by salec (791463)
      Yes, they state as largest problem how to kill off only aberrant stem cells, which generate tumor cells without killing both aberrant and normal stem cells, which would be A Bad Thing.

      IANAB but ... if we could send a marker with deadly but inactive payload to home on all stem cells, but somehow get activated only by newly introduced tumor cell, that might do it.

      Or, better, a marker compound (1) that would bond to a stem cell AND to a tumor cell if (when) they are close enough (immediately after cell divisio
    • by m0nstr42 (914269)
      Anyone answering above this post have not have time to read the article
      Or they replied to the first post and we have the discussion view set to "thread".
    • It discusses (biased) that they are, and talks briefly about where in the body you'll find stem cells

      You may be using the term 'biased' in research/journalist form that I am unfarmiliar with. Im not sure the article is really biased on the concept -- but again, perhaps your meaning 'biased' in a nuanced way Im not appreciating. Anywho, hmm, near the bottom of the article:

      a surgeon with Toronto's University Health Network, studied cells from the freshly removed colon tumours of 17 patients...From these,
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Retric (704075)
        It's "biased" in that it assumes a single study is correct.

        "Stem cells core of more cancers"
        vs.
        "Stem cells possible core of more cancers"

        The results seem plausible but no competent scientist puts much weight on a single small study. It also uses emotion to boost the validity of the research

        "A lot is known about the genetics of colon cancer, but despite all our knowledge, too many people keep relapsing and dying,"

        A non biased article should use a neutral tone to convey information not drum up support for a r
  • by onion2k (203094) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @05:37AM (#16927820) Homepage
    There's a huge flaw in the article. You don't kill the king in chess, you capture him.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by BadAnalogyGuy (945258)
      You don't kill the king in chess, you capture him.

      Yeah, in pussy chess. In girly chess you kill the king.

      And in manly chess, you kill the loser. Suicides are common.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      There's a huge flaw in the article. You don't kill the king in chess, you capture him.
      ... and then you kill him, else why would you capture him?
      • To keep him as a sex slave. Duh.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by yibble (68787)
        For ransom, of course :)

        A common practise in history.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by VTMarik (880085)
        To force him to abdicate his throne, name you as his successor, give you his woman, and then to dress up in frilly clothes and call him your gentleman-in-waiting, why else?
      • Four words (Score:2, Funny)

        by CheeseyDJ (800272)
        "Bring out the gimp"
      • It's good for the circuluation. ;)
      • You also have to capture a Bishop, so that you can string the King up with 'the entrails of the last priest', as Robert Heinlein so eloquently suggested.
      • by jozmala (101511)
        Lets have a biblical answer.Its found at the beginning of Judges. To cut of his thumbs and big toes and have him pick up scraps under your table.

        Here's exact quote:
        "Seventy kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off have picked up scraps under my table."
      • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
        ``... and then you kill him, else why would you capture him?''

        You make him continue his rule as if nothing happened, except that now, you're pulling the strings behind the scenes.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by jackb_guppy (204733)
      You don't CAPTURE the king. You CHECK-MATE the king. leaving your opponate with no move to save the king. Your opponate than normally knocks the king over (think sucide) showing defeat.

      But capturing the queen can be fun.
      • by Tatarize (682683)
        Actually, not quite. You are right that it's check-mate (think trapped) rather than capturing. But, it depends a little on the kind of chess. In speed chess for example it's perfectly acceptable to capture the king. Secondly, usually you don't knock over the king after you're checkmated. Perhaps shake hands, perhaps setup for another game. Knocking over the king is a surrender, and you don't really need to do so after you lost. Although if you have a move or two to go, it's a time saver.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by rarity (165626)
        You don't CAPTURE the king. You CHECK-MATE the king.

        I thought "check mate" came from the Persian "Shah Mat", which means "the King is dead".
        • Re:Fundamental Flaw (Score:5, Informative)

          by Suhas (232056) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @07:07AM (#16928354)
          Nope. it means the King has been defeated. "Mat", which is a word common to Urdu and Hindi as well, means defeat, while "Shah", of course, means King
          • by tibike77 (611880)
            The Romanian term for "checkmate" is pronounced almost exactly like "shah maat" would be pronounced (written "ah-mat").
            It was always the common understanding this means "the king is disabled" or "king is incapacitated", or at worst "king is captured"... and never "king is dead" or anything like that.
      • by JiveDog (871841)
        "It's good to be the King"
    • by draxredd (661953)
      Actually, "check mate" comes from a bastardized persian locution "shh mt", meaning "The king is dead". playing Chess (shah) is playing Kings, truly.
    • by deander2 (26173) *
      no, the king is never captured - just put into a position from where there is no escape.

      Checkmate (frequently shortened to mate) is a situation in chess (and in other boardgames of the chaturanga family) in which one player's king is under attack and there is no way to meet that threat; it is a check from which there is no escape. The king is never actually captured -- the game ends as soon as the king is checkmated.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Checkmate [wikipedia.org]
  • over the years gazillions of money (well deserved money) was spent on cancer research - I cannot understand how they come up with a totally new direction only now! what have they been doing all this time? however - this is very exciting news and I pray this new path will help find a cure
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DDLKermit007 (911046)
      Major advances are more often than not made through simple changes to the accepted "norm." What usually drags such things on is that those that have a vested interest in one form of advancement paying off they will not risk another way. As such it usually ends up requiring fresh blood in the mix. Another problem there is often times the new blood has set ways impressed on them by the mentors and as such regurgitate the same, wrong, answers till someone often times risking tanking their career (see invitro f
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by salec (791463)
      Only of recent stem cells, particulary non-fetal stem cells, gained the hype, so even researchers from other fields, who taught stem cells were not interesting for their work got a glance at them... and were surprised to see how closely they match description of malign, rogue cells and click into the big picture. This was expected and inevitable.
    • gee, why didn't people invent nuclear fusion overnight, or the internet in a day? I don't know, maybe because great discoveries can't happen without all the other research that came before and its based on? unless you're some kind of great cancer research god and your about to straighten me out?
  • I knew it! (Score:2, Funny)

    by jtorkbob (885054)
    The President was right the whole time! These evil stem cell things really are evil!
    • by dohzer (867770)
      Yeah.
      In the same way we aren't allowed to use them to heal people, I guess we won't be allowed to kill them to stop cancer.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Shaper_pmp (825142)
      Indeed - it's the stem cells! They're in it with the gays and the terrorists!

      But the thing to remember is that there's really only a small hard-core of stem cells hiding in a huge mass of normal cells, with no real popular support. So what we should do is go in all guns blazing and take out as many of the healthy cells as we can in the cross-fire, then occupy the entire body and sell off its natural resources (dental fillings?) to Halliburton for no-bid contracts.

      Furthermore, during our occupation we shou
    • Since the far right has equated stem cells with abortion, then anti-cancer treatments and research must be banned because they kill the unborn. Save the tumors!
  • Possibly intuitive? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by theundergroundman (944494) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @05:56AM (#16927934)
    One of the problems with the older strains of stem cells in US research is that they often caused cancer in experimental mice. Going from undifferentiated to rapidly differentiating. When you think about those results this finding makes intuitive sense but I am also not a biologist, at least not full time.
  • by macadamia_harold (947445) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @05:58AM (#16927942) Homepage
    The Globe and Mail reports that cancers have at their core a small number of stem cells, without which they cannot spread or reoccur.

    So how long until we have some partisan halfwit wielding this nugget of information in his crusade against stem-cell research?
    • by Froster (985053) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @06:10AM (#16928024)
      Or it will work in the opposite sense. Its hard to argue against research that can cure cancer. There has been a lot of talk about the use of stem cells to treat inherited disease, but thats largely something that only those unfortunate enough to suffer from that disease would favour (or publicly advocate). Cancer on the other hand is something that everyone can relate to, and everyone knows a victim of. If you told even the most ardent Bush supporter if they are willing to do whatever they can to cure cancer, I doubt they would be willing to say no.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SnowZero (92219)
      So how long until we have some person who is opposed to harvesting aborted fetuses wielding this nugget of information in his crusade against taxpayer funding of stem-cell research?

      There, I fixed it for you.

      Why don't we start harvesting organs from prisoners against their will, and carry out various risky medical research on the long-term prison population? At least then we would be consistent. It's sad when the average person can watch a movie such as The Island, and yet not see any parallels to the choi
      • by labeth (959822)
        Or, rather, it's sad that anyone has ever seen The Island.
      • by Fryed (205364) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @10:14AM (#16929874)
        First off, Embryo != Fetus

        If you don't know what embryo means, here's a helpful link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embryo#Growth_of_the_ Human_Embryo [wikipedia.org]

        Secondly, most of the controversy that I'm aware of right now does not involve taking stem cells from aborted fetuses, or aborted embryos. It involves taking embryos that were already created and frozen in a lab for in vitro fertilization, but never used. If these embryos are not implanted in a womb within a certain amount of time, even frozen, they stop being viable. Furthermore, most in vitro clinics destroy the unwanted embryos after the couple has successfully conceived. Right now, these embryos are just being destroyed, but instead, they could be use to cure people! However, people like you go around spreading misinformation designed to rile up people's emotions, to the point where they forget what the issue is even about.
        • If these embryos are not implanted in a womb within a certain amount of time, even frozen, they stop being viable.

          why? at the temperature at which they are kept, aren't they stateless? why should a week, year, decade, century matter? so long as the temp is a constant and allows no change? this is fact?

        • by SnowZero (92219)
          First off, don't treat me like an idiot. After 10 years of college and graduate school, I know perfectly well how to use google and wikipedia.

          most of the controversy that I'm aware of right now does not involve taking stem cells from aborted fetuses, or aborted embryos. It involves taking embryos that were already created and frozen in a lab for in vitro fertilization, but never used.

          The only reason the "current controversey" is about embryos is that there has already been a fight over other sources. When
          • by Fryed (205364)
            First off, don't treat me like an idiot. After 10 years of college and graduate school, I know perfectly well how to use google and wikipedia.

            My apologies for that. It can be hard to tell with people on the internet sometimes, and I came off as unnecessarily caustic there. However, there's a decent chance that someone viewing this thread might not have been aware of the precise differences between embryos and fetuses, so perhaps I helped someone out.

            So, given where we are, is it wrong to not want to pay f
    • Well, obviously we have to find a way to hunt down these killer terrorist stem cells... So where is my Federal grant?
  • by Dachannien (617929) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @06:08AM (#16928002)
    Since stem cells come from embryos, and stem cells also cause cancer, the solution is obvious.

    We must eradicate all embryos.

    (We should probably eradicate all babies while we're at it, just to be safe.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      OK, who clicked on 'informative'. Duh!
    • by louzerr (97449)
      No, see that's the cool thing ... since stem cells are only in embryos (this is what Hollywood & the press seem to think anyway), the rest of us don't need to worry about cancer! Saved by Hollywood!
    • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
      That's right. I've been saying it forever, but nobody takes me seriously: life is a lethal disease. Think about it. Everybody who has ever died has suffered from it. All these so-called diseases, like the flu and (especially) cancer are just symptoms.

      The sad thing is that, with all our research being focused on treating its symptoms, we still don't have an effective treatment for the most widespread and lethal disease of all. We really need to get our act together and start focusing medical research where i
    • Yes, for too long the abortion debate has been presented, at least in the popular press, as a false dichotomy.

      They seem to think there are only two groups on this issue: those who are "pro choice" and those who are "pro life." But this ignores a huge number of Americans in the other group: pro abortion. Where are the media pundits who advocate encouraging the abortion process? We can't just leave them out of the abortion debate.
  • by tcdk (173945) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @06:08AM (#16928010) Homepage Journal
    ... and luckily it's one of their rare free ones:

    Stem Cells: The Real Culprits in Cancer? [sciam.com]

  • Vitamine B17 (Score:5, Informative)

    by Frans Faase (648933) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @06:13AM (#16928040) Homepage
    I remember that Dr. G. Edward Griffin, the author of "World Without Cancer : The Story of Vitamin B17", has been claiming for a long time that stem cells are at the core of cancer, and that vitamine B17 is very effective in helping the body stop stem cells from going wild and causing cancer. I have followed the debate around vitamine B17, but so far have not come to a conclusion whether it is real or a hoax.
  • by smitty_one_each (243267) * on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @06:20AM (#16928086) Homepage Journal
    Core of Cancer?
    Easy answer.
    Research me closer,
    Tiny dancer.
    Burma Shave
    • by kfg (145172)
      Ok, I giggled. I'm not sure why I giggled, but I did. Maybe you released my inner five year old or something; although the increase in maturity level was startling.

      KFG
    • by Jesus_666 (702802)
      I, for one, welcome our new fake Burma Shave ad overl-- er, Slashdot meme.
  • by transporter_ii (986545) * on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @09:15AM (#16929258) Homepage

    I think we should give credit where credit is due:

    The Trophoblast Thesis Of Cancer "In 1902, John Beard, a professor of embryology at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, authored a paper published in the British medical journal Lancet in which he stated there were no differences between cancer cells and certain pre-embryonic cells that were normal to the early stages of pregnancy,"

    Note that we know in mice that blastomeres, put in the right environment, will multiply, organize and create trophoblastic cells (Many of the more promising lines of stem cells have been derived from blastocysts).

    It is pretty uncanny that Beard nailed it pretty darn close in 1902, and he probably concluded that it was trophobastic cells because they couldn't get any deeper than that at the time.

    transporter_ii

    • by transporter_ii (986545) * on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @09:18AM (#16929286) Homepage
      [Again, keep in mind that to isolate stem cells, scientists "peel away" the trophoblast.]

      http://www.forbes.com/free_forbes/2004/1227/070.ht [forbes.com] ml [forbes.com]

      Cancer Killer

      Radical researchers are onto a controversial idea for stopping cancer: go after stem cells

      Peter Dirks uses a talented pair of hands to cut cancer out of the brains of sick children. But no matter how brilliantly he performs, he rarely is able to stop cancer's return; sometimes the tumors come roaring back just months after he excises all visible signs of disease.

      This inevitability--of children dying in the face of his best attempts to heal them--got to him. "It broke my heart that we couldn't do more for them," says Dirks, a surgeon-scientist at the University of Toronto-affiliated Hospital for Sick Children. So in desperation he set out six years ago to pursue a radical new theory of what truly fuels cancer's growth, one that might unlock new therapies and explain why today's treatments often provide only fleeting help.

      His concept was so fringy that government agencies repeatedly rejected his grant proposals. Parents of several of his patients kept the research going by donating $100,000 to his efforts; one of the couples even took up a collection at their child's funeral. But this fall Dirks reported a breakthrough that could dramatically alter our understanding of how cancer grows. His revelation, which could take a decade or more to take hold, is the latest in a string of findings that may one day uncloak the key triggers of many different kinds of cancer.

      Scientists have long assumed that all of the dozens of kinds of cells inside a tumor are created equal--and are equally deadly, capable of spreading elsewhere in the body to create a totally new tumor. So they focus on chemotherapy that kills as many cancer cells as possible.

      Dirks and a handful of other mavericks argue that this indiscriminate approach is wrongheaded. They believe a single type of cell may be cancer's main growth engine:mutant stem cells that, though barely present, spawn other cells that then spark growth. "This has profound implications," says researcher Thomas Look of Boston's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. "The major cells you see under a microscope may not be the ones you need to kill in order to cure the disease." He adds that the theory "is definitely still very controversial" in some quarters.

      Figure out a way to isolate these mutant cells and target only them, Dirks says, and maybe cancer can be stopped outright--and the kids he treats might stop dying so soon after he operates.

      These mutant stem cells already have been found in breast cancer, two types of leukemia and multiple myeloma. This fall Dirks and six scientists at the University of Toronto proved the existence of the cells in human brain tumors, pinpointing a small group of cells believed to be the driver of the tumors' growth. "In every brain tumor we have looked at, in both adults and kids, we are able to find these cells," Dirks says.

      When the researchers implanted just a couple hundred of these cells into mice, they developed huge tumors and often died within weeks. Other brain cancer cells, by contrast, were incapable of forming new tumors, no matter how many were injected into the mice, Dirks wrote last month in the journal Nature. The more stem cells present, the more virulently the tumor grows:They account for 1 in 4 cells in a glioblastoma tumor, the deadliest type of brain cancer, but only 1 in 500 cells in slower-growing forms of brain cancer, Dirks found.

      Some researchers predict that stem cells eventually will be found in most major types of cancer. "It will completely change the search for new treatments and the way we think about the disease," says Irving Weissman, a renowned stem cell expert at Stanford University, who says several big drug firms have taken an interest in the latest findings.

      Stem cells are the primitive
    • by transporter_ii (986545) * on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @09:21AM (#16929316) Homepage

      And what was Beard's Trophoblastic Thesis Of Cancer?

      The trophoblast thesis championed by John Beard maintains that, as the body is damaged by everyday wear, aging, improper diet, contact with substances known to damage the body, such as tobacco or toxic chemicals, etc., the body begins to heal itself with cells, to some extent, made up of trophoblast cells. Under normal conditions, when the healing is complete, the immune system "turns off" the trophoblast cells and stops what would otherwise be an overgrowth of these cells -- a condition we would label cancer -- by the use of pancreatic enzymes.

      This lead some to say that cancer, rather than being an invasion of mutated cells, was more correctly an "over-healing" situation in the body (admittedly, that is an oversimplification). But there are many that think this is one reason why cancer so easily evades the immune system, which would under normal conditions kill off anything foreign to the body fairly quickly...

      Transporter_ii

      • [And for those that study enzymems, they will find that a poor diet causes the body's enzymes to get real stressed out. Digestion is hard on the body, which is why calorie restriction improves lifespan. But when a steady diet of junk food is eaten, the body works so hard trying to digest it, important enzymes that help repair the body decrease. -- Transporter_ii]

        From the Lancet:

        "In many [western] countries, peoples' diet changed substantially in the second half of the twentieth century, generally with incre
  • This connection between stem cells and cancer is touched upon in the TED talk with Eva Vertes, a young researcher. Very interesting stuff.

    The video is available at the TEDTalks webpage. Look for Eva Vertes.
    http://www.ted.com/tedtalks/ [ted.com]
  • "If we devise a drug that kills a neural stem cell," said Dr. Dirks, "maybe that will mean you won't be able to form new memories. . . . It will inhibit stem cells and they are thought to have a role in memory formation."

    Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
  • Aha! (Score:1, Funny)

    by cparisi (136611)
    Stem cells are evil! This will pave the way to a constitutional amendment to ban stem cells!
  • Obvious. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Spazmania (174582) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @09:52AM (#16929652) Homepage
    What, this wasn't obvious? Entire rows of teeth have shown up inside of tumors and nobody thought to say, "Gee, maybe there are some rogue stem cells at work here." What blindingly obvious connection will they fail to see next? The possibility that stem cells may turn out not to be useful because when properly stimulated to grow a replacement body part, they behave precisely like cancer?
    • Re:Obvious. (Score:4, Informative)

      by NorthDude (560769) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @10:28AM (#16930060)
      No, it wasn't obvious. The type of tumor you are talking about are called Teratoma [wikipedia.org]. I can't explain what they are and won't even try as I am in no way qualified to do so, but anyway, read the wikipedia entry. And by the way, don't you think that these guys know what they are doing? They have been researching on the subject for years, they have conducted experiments, studied the field, etc, for all of their life. Don't you think that if it had been so obvious that, well, they would probably have found it before?
      • by hyc (241590)
        No, because most researchers today have specialized so much in their studies that they pretty much have tunnel vision. It practically takes an Act of God (note the irony) to get these people to look up and take note of what other people in other fields have discovered.
    • Teeth have been known to form inside an "ovarian dermoid cyst". This is cancer that comes from the cells that form eggs in women. The tumors they cause can have hair, teeth, etc. Pretty creepy but not actually a sign that all cancers have stem cells.
  • The sad thing is you're probably right. Bush or one of his 'genius' advisors will spin this in the opposite direction and use it as ammunition on their quasi-religious quest to eradicate anything and anyone of use.

    I hope I'm wrong. I hope this has an effect similar to the election. It would be nice to see the Bush talking heads (any one of them) pop on screen touting the virtues of stem cell research in the fight against cancer.
  • cliche (Score:2, Funny)

    I for one welcome our new stem cell overlords.
  • There was a Scientific American a few months ago with a good write up on stem cells' role in cancer. I recommend a visit to the library if you're interested in the topic.
    • Damn. I just blew my last mod point, then saw this thread. Your post was my exact thought - "old news." Sorry - you deserve that mod point more than the story I gave it to.

      While I do encourage slashdaughters to go to the library, you can also see the story on SciAm's website [sciam.com].

  • For the record I am a biologist and specifically a cancer geneticist and while I only graduated recently this is something that I can't recall ever having discussed. Not even in a course devoted to the biology of cancer cells.

    At the same time it makes almost perfect sense as a potentially important paradigm shift in how we think about cancer and, from the perspective of this article, how we treat cancers.

    Essentially the way cancers were currently thought to function is that normal, differentiated cells some
  • by SQLz (564901)
    Isn't that convinient. Maybe we would have found this out years ago if someone would have funded stem cell research.

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