Saturday, December 10, 2005

Stem cells may trigger bone cancer

Our bodies normally contain many types of stem cells, which are essential for generating many other types of cells, such as bone, blood, and skin. But by their very nature, since stem cells can turn into other types of body cells, there have been suspicions that stem cells may (although quite rarely) also become cancer cells.

Scientists say stem cells may trigger bone cancer
Stem cells may cause some forms of bone cancer, University of Florida scientists report.

The researchers are the first to identify a population of cells with characteristics of adult and embryonic stem cells in cultures derived from biopsies of patients’ bone tumors. They describe their findings in this month’s issue of the medical journal Neoplasia.

“We’re saying the cell of origin of these tumors may be very, very primitive,” said Dr. C. Parker Gibbs, an associate professor of orthopaedic oncology and a member of the UF Shands Cancer Center. Gibbs collaborated with several UF scientists, including Dennis A. Steindler, director of UF’s McKnight Brain Institute.

Researchers elsewhere already have implicated stem cells in the development of leukemia, and Steindler’s lab previously discovered stem-like cells in brain cancer. Others have identified these same cells in some breast cancers.

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