Monday, September 21, 2015

The key to cancer cure is stem cells?

The key to cancer cure is stem cells?
Stem cells, which are processed in the lab, play a major role in the so-called personalized medicine. Whether skin cancer, lung cancer or leukemia: Each type of cancer developed their own stem cells that get the tumor alive and let it grow. Herein see great potential for medical drugs that might halt the scourge mankind cancer.

The real enemy at a cancer are the so-called stem cells. This has been increasingly evident in recent research. Not only did they emerge from the tumors. They also provide constantly looking for cancer cells and get an often life-threatening tumor alive. Moreover, can leave the tumor and penetrate the wall of blood vessels their direct descendants. With the blood they move to other body tissues and form metastases - the dreaded metastases - in which most patients die.

Stem cells are difficult to combat
To make matters worse cancer stem cells are relatively insensitive to chemotherapy or radiation. Therefore, it is very likely that they trigger the recurrence of tumors after an apparently successful treatment.

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"We are convinced that we can only defeat the cancer, if we manage to grab him at its root and destroy the cancer stem cells," says Otmar Wiestler, CEO of the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ). How this could be possible now discussed by some 400 experts at a international conference at the DKFZ in Heidelberg.

In the organism, stem cells have an important function: they bring constantly produces new cells. Many specialized cells, such as skin, mucosa or blood, have a lifespan of only a few days. Therefore, every day, millions must be supplied by them. This effect the so-called adult stem cells, also called tissue stem cells. They have the potential to develop into the type of tissue required in each case. In this process of differentiation is normal stem cells can transform by gene mutations in tumor stem cells.
The perfidious tricks of the tumor cells
A tumor has once formed, securing nunmehrigen cancer stem cells survive with a series of perfidious tricks. One of them is that they attach themselves to the so-called stem cell niche. There they are protected against attacks by the immune system. "The niche cells surrounding the cancer stem cells and support them in their fatal task. It is therefore absolutely necessary for therapeutic approaches these cells to keep in mind, "explains the molecular biologist Trumpp, who heads the Department of Stem Cells and Cancer at the DKFZ.

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With attacks on niche cells Trumpp will continue to help patients who are ill with "Myelodysplastic syndrome" (MDS). In the Leiden with the tongue-twisting name of preventing a defect in the blood stem cells that mature in the body functioning blood cells. The result is a general physical weakness, internal bleeding and severe infection. In approximately one third of cases, the MDS developed into acute myeloid leukemia, which is difficult to treat with today's means only.

To better understand the cause and progression of the disease, transferred Trumpp and his colleagues defective blood stem cells from MDS patients on mice. This was achieved, however, only after niche cells were transplanted with the same person. "The niche cells produce a number of protein factors that are necessary for the survival of hematopoietic stem cells," says Trumpp. "They thus represent a kind of micro-environment of stem cells."

Wicked cell strategy leads to leukemia
In it, the sick MDS stem cells ensure their survival with a treacherous strategy: You program the niche cells from healthy donors in a way, that these increases constitute growth factors. With their help turn the abnormal cells in the bone marrow can further proliferate. "The MDS-blood stem cells and their niche influence apparently mutually", the DKFZ researchers summarize. "Sick MDS stem cells and niche cells form a functional unit, the disease continues to advance drives as in a vicious circle." Now they want to try to block the growth factors that produce the reprogrammed niche cells in excess of drugs or antibodies. Thus, the progression of MDS to leukemia could go stop.

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