Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Study provides documentation that tumor 'stem-like cells' exist in benign tumors

Cancer stem-like cells have been implicated in the genesis of a variety of malignant cancers. Research scientists at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute have isolated stem-like cells in benign (pituitary) tumors and used these "mother" cells to generate new tumors in laboratory mice. Targeting the cells of origin is seen as a possible strategy in the fight against malignant and benign tumors.

Cells generated from the pituitary tumor cells had the same genetic makeup and characteristics as the original tumors and were capable of generating new tumors, according to an article in the July 2009 issue of the British Journal of Cancer, posted online June 30.

Normal stem cells have the ability to self-renew and the potential to "differentiate" into any of several types of cells. Tumor stem-like cells appear to have the same self-renewing and multipotent properties, but instead of producing healthy cells, they propagate tumor cells. In this study, benign tumor stem-like cells were analyzed for their genetic makeup and behavior.

Pituitary adenomas have unusual characteristics that provided significant clues about several types of stem cells. The pituitary gland, situated at the base of the brain behind the nose, is stimulated by hormones from the hypothalamus gland to produce a variety of hormones that control other glands throughout the body. About half of all pituitary adenomas – which arise from pituitary gland tissue – also have this hormone-producing capability.

In these studies, the scientists isolated stem-like cells from both hormone-producing and non-producing pituitary adenomas that had been surgically removed from eight patients. Laboratory experiments focused on tumor stem cells from one tumor that produced growth hormone and one tumor that produced no hormones. Both types of stem-like cells were found to be self-renewable and multipotent, meaning they expressed proteins that could enable their offspring to differentiate into several types of cells.

Studies also showed that both hormone-producing and non-producing tumor stem cells can be differentiated into hormone-producing cells, with the specific hormones produced being determined by the characteristics of the original pituitary tumor.

Consistent with the researchers' earlier findings in cancer stem-like cells of malignant brain tumors, the tumor stem cells – but not the "daughter" cells – appeared to be resistant to chemotherapy. This suggests that even if most of a tumor's cells can be killed, stem-like cells may survive and regenerate the tumor.

When tumor stem-like cells were implanted into laboratory mice, they generated new tumors that had the same genetic composition and characteristics as the original tumors. Cells from the new tumors, later transplanted into other mice, maintained the same tumor-specific properties.

"Although previous studies have offered evidence of the existence of stem-like cells in pituitary adenomas, in this study we scrutinized these cells for composition and function, demonstrating that stem-like cells exist in benign tumors," said neurosurgeon John S. Yu, M.D., director of Surgical Neuro-oncology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. He is senior author of the journal article.

Although pituitary adenomas are typically noncancerous, they can cause significant injury or illness, either by compressing important structures, such as the optic nerve, or by creating hormone imbalances that can have wide-ranging and serious consequences. Identifying the mechanisms that enable these and other tumors to form may provide unique targets for new, more effective therapies.

"From our work with cancer stem-like cells in malignant brain cancers, it appears that stem cells from different cancers – or possibly even within the same tumor – may use different signaling pathways and have different implications for disease progression and prognosis. Findings from the pituitary tumor study generally support the cancer stem cell hypothesis, suggesting that similar mechanisms may be involved in the generation of both malignant and benign tumors," said Keith L. Black, M.D., chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai.

"Confirmation of the existence of stem-like cells in benign tumors is intriguing," said Yu, "but many questions remain to be answered, particularly in defining the molecular mechanisms involved. We need to find out if there is any relationship between tumor stem cells and normal pituitary stem cells, and how stem cells from benign tumors are different from and similar to those of malignant tumors."

Research scientists from Cedars-Sinai's departments of Neurosurgery, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, and Surgery participated in these studies, which were partly funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Italian Association for Neurological Research (ARIN).

Citation: British Journal of Cancer: "Isolation of tumour stem-like cells from benign tumours." July 2009:

Sandy Van | 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 >>>