A research team at The Hospital for Sick Children (HSC) and the University of Toronto (U of T), led by Dr. Peter Dirks, has identified for the first time a cancer stem cell in both malignant and benign brain tumours. This discovery may change how brain tumours are studied and how this deadly condition is treated in the future. This research is reported in the September 15, 2003 issue of the scientific journal Cancer Research.
"The discovery of a cancer stem cell for brain tumours means that only a small number of cells in a brain tumour have the ability to drive tumour growth. Many current cancer therapies may fail because they do not kill the cancer-sustaining stem cells. We now have to work on designing therapies that will attack these stem cells," said Dr. Peter Dirks, an HSC neurosurgeon and scientist-track investigator in the Developmental Biology Research Program, and an assistant professor of Neurosurgery at U of T.
Brain tumours are the leading cause of cancer mortality in children and remain difficult to cure despite advances in surgery and drug treatments. In adults, most brain tumours are also amongst the most sinister of cancers with formidable resistance to most therapies.
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