Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Long-lived breast stem cells could retain cancer legacy

Researchers from Melbourne's Walter and Eliza Hall Institute have discovered that breast stem cells and their 'daughters' have a much longer lifespan than previously thought, and are active in puberty and throughout life.

The longevity of breast stem cells and their daughters means that they could harbour genetic defects or damage that progress to cancer decades later, potentially shifting back the timeline of breast cancer development.

The finding is also integral to identifying the 'cells of origin' of breast cancer and the ongoing quest to develop new treatments and diagnostics for breast cancer.

Breast stem cells were isolated in 2006 by Professors Jane Visvader and Geoff Lindeman and their colleagues at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute.

Now, in a project led by Dr Anne Rios and Dr Nai Yang Fu that tracked normal breast stem cells and their development the team has discovered that breast stem cells actively maintain breast tissue for most of the life of the individual and contribute to all major stages of breast development. The research was published today in the journal Nature.

Professor Lindeman, who is also an oncologist at The Royal Melbourne Hospital, said discovering the long lifespan and programming of breast stem cells would have implications for identifying the cells of origin of breast cancers.

"Given that these stem cells – and their 'daughter' progenitor cells – can live for such a long time and are capable of self renewing, damage to their genetic code could lead to breast cancer 10 or 20 years later," Professor Lindeman said. "This finding has important applications for our understanding of breast cancer. We hope that it will lead to the development of new treatment and diagnostic strategies in the clinic to help women with breast cancer in the future."

Professor Visvader said understanding the hierarchy and development of breast cells was critical to identifying the cells that give rise to breast cancer, and how and why these cells become cancerous. "Without knowing the precise cell types in which breast cancer originates, we will continue to struggle in our efforts to develop new diagnostics and treatments for breast cancer, or developing preventive strategies," Professor Visvader said.

Previous research from the institute team had already implicated some of these immature breast cells in cancer development. "In 2009, we showed that luminal progenitor cells, the daughters of breast stem cells, were the likely cell of origin for the aggressive BRCA1-associated basal breast cancers," Professor Visvader said. "The meticulous work of Anne and Nai Yang, using state-of-the-art three-dimensional imaging, has significantly improved our understanding of normal breast development and will have future applications for breast cancer."

The project should settle a debate that has been raging in the scientific field, confirming that breast stem cells were 'true' stem cells capable of renewing themselves and making all the cells of the mammary gland.

"Our team was amongst the first to isolate 'renewable' breast stem cells," Professor Visvader said. "However the existence of a common stem cell that can create all the cells lining the breast ducts has been a contentious issue in the field. In this study we've proven that ancestral breast stem cells function in puberty and adulthood and that they give rise to all the different cell types that make up the adult breast."

The research project was supported by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, Victorian Government, Australian Cancer Research Foundation, Qualtrough Research Fund, National Breast Cancer Foundation and Cure Cancer Australia.

Penny Fannin | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'
16.03.2018 | Emory Health Sciences

nachricht Scientists map the portal to the cell's nucleus
16.03.2018 | Rockefeller University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>