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 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 >>>