Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Gene signature for cancer stem cells may provide drug targets

A subset of tumor cells that remain after a woman with breast cancer undergoes treatment with either anti-cancer or anti-hormone therapy shows a "gene signature" that could be used to define targets for developing new drugs against the disease, said a consortium of researchers led by Baylor College of Medicine. The report appears in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"We have found that gene expression patterns in a subset of these resistant cancer cells differ from those associated with the bulk of the epithelial cells in the tumor. These patterns resemble expression patterns more closely associated with cells with a mesenchymal (a form of connective tissue) phenotype (or appearance)," said Dr. Jenny Chang (, medical director of the Sue and Lester Smith Breast Center ( at BCM and a professor of medicine. Chang is a senior author of the paper along with Drs. Michael Lewis and Jeffrey M. Rosen, both of BCM and the Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center ( as well as the Breast Center.

In a previous paper, the authors showed that after patients received conventional chemotherapy, the remaining tumor contained a higher percentage of tumor-initiating cells, also known as breast cancer stem cells. These remaining tumor-initiating cells were therefore largely resistant to conventional treatments.

They found that gene expression patterns in these chemoresistant cells represented a tumor-initiating gene signature, which was not only more easily detectable in a newly-defined breast cancer subtype called "claudin-low", but also enriched in human breast tumors after they had been treated with anti-cancer drugs that target the signals of hormones, said Chang. They also found that genes associated with the mesenchymal cell phenotype were increased in breast tumors after hormone treatment.

"This study supports a growing body of evidence that there is a particular subpopulation of cells in breast cancer that may be responsible for disease recurrence, resistance to treatment, and perhaps metastasis (cancer spread)," said Chang.

In the future, she said, the group will be looking at ways to use the gene signature they have identified to develop drugs that can combine with conventional therapy to eradicate all populations of cells within tumors.

Others who took part in this research include Chad J. Creighton, Xiaoxian Li, Melissa Landis, Helen Wong, Angel Rodriguez, Jason I. Herschkowitz, Xiamoei Zhang, Anne Pavlick, M. Carolina Gutierrez, and Susan G. Hilsenbeck, all of the Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center at BCM; J. Michael Dixon, Lorna Renshaw, Alexey A. Larionov and Dana Faratian of Western General Hospital in Edinburgh, UK;Veronique M. Neumeister, Ashley Sjohund, David L. Rimm and Xiaping He, all of Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, CT; Cheng Fan and Charles M. Perou, both of Unversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Funding for this study came from the Breast Cancer Research Fundation, the Helis Foundation, the National Cancer Institute Breast Cancer Special Program of Research Excellence, the National Cancer Institute, the Breakthrough Research Unit in Edinburgh, Cancer Research UK, the National Institutes of Health, Glaxo Smith Kline and the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command.

For more information on basic science research at Baylor College of Medicine, please go to or

Glenna Picton | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

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...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

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...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

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...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>