This finding will help to track the origin of chemical resistance and to launch personalized medicine by means of developing novel therapies against these cancer stem cells
Tumours are mosaics of cells that are morphologically and molecularly very different. In this cellular heterogeneity, it is calculated that only 1-2% of the tumour mass is made up of cancer stem cells, which over the past years have been suggested to be responsible for the origin of cancer and for the resistance to conventional chemical therapies.
Researchers Bruno Sainz and Irene Miranda show the image of a tumor stem cell containing green-colored fluorescent vesicles.
This small percentage of cancer stem cells in a solid tumour makes it difficult to isolate and analyse them, as well as to study the origin of drug resistance.
Researchers from the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) have discovered and characterised a new specific marker for cancer stem cells: riboflavin, or vitamin B2, a pigment that emits green fluorescence as a result of its accumulation inside intracellular vesicles. This light emission property, acts to track, isolate, and later purify it, without the need for antibodies or other more costly and complex techniques.
Results from the research, headed by scientists Irene Miranda, Bruno Sainz and Christopher Heeschen, are published today in the journal Nature Methods.
"The discovery of this new marker is a breakthrough, as it can select for tumour stem cells, which are the most invasive and chemical-resistant cancer cells. Autofluorescence allows these cells to be tracked in an easy, simple and inexpensive way, as well as to study the origin of the tumours' chemical resistance," states Irene Miranda, the article's first author.
"Normally, we only see the leaves of the tree represented by tumours, but we cannot make out the roots [the cancer stem cells], which are the true responsible parties for the progression and growth of tumours," illustrates Miranda.
Cells shining, thanks to a vitamin
The discovery −which was carried out in several types of tumours, including samples from patients with pancreas, liver, colon and lung cancer− raises a question: why do tumour stem cells accumulate vitamin B2?
In the article, researchers show that this is due to an increase in ABCG2, the protein responsible for the transport of vitamin B2 into intracellular vesicles, conferring luminosity to the cells. The factors behind this phenomenon are yet to be determined.
Despite unknowns regarding its nature, autofluorescence could help to launch future approaches in personalised medicine and to develop more effective anticancer treatments. "We will now be able to isolate autofluorescent cells from a biopsy and to test their sensitivity in a panel of experimental or marketed drugs," affirm Sainz and Heeschen. "In this way, we want to accelerate the identification of new drugs or their use in combination, in order to specifically destroy the patient´s cancer stem cells," says Sainz.
The study was funded by the European Union, the National Institute of Health Carlos III, the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness and the "la Caixa" Foundation.
Reference article: Intracellular autofluorescence: a biomarker for epithelial cancer stem cells. Irene Miranda-Lorenzo, Jorge Dorado, Enza Lonardo, Sonia Alcala, Alicia G Serrano, Jenifer Clausell-Tormos, Michele Cioffi, Diego Megias, Sladjana Zagorac, Anamaria Balic, Manuel Hidalgo, Mert Erkan, Joerg Kleeff, Aldo Scarpa, Bruno Sainz, Jr & Christopher Heeschen. Nature Methods (2014). doi: 10.1038/nmeth.3112
Nuria Noriega | Eurek Alert!
First time-lapse footage of cell activity during limb regeneration
25.10.2016 | eLife
Phenotype at the push of a button
25.10.2016 | Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
26.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
26.10.2016 | Materials Sciences