For a decade, it’s been one of the most hotly debated questions in cancer: do tumors return despite powerful treatments because they harbor a small number of stem cells that evade drugs?
If these rare, resilient cells are seeding new tumors, it would suggest a radical change in strategy for fighting cancer: drugs should primarily target these rare stem cells, rather than aiming to shrink a tumor. But research has produced conflicting results about the existence and importance of such cancer stem cells.
Now, two of the world’s top science journals are publishing evidence that should help settle the question. Three independent teams of researchers, working in mice with different types of cancers or precancerous tumors, have used new genetic techniques to find populations of stem cells that cause tumors to grow. In one case, researchers were able to show that treating glioblastoma, a deadly brain tumor, with a commonly-given chemotherapy leaves behind those rare cells, which spark regrowth of the tumor.
View the original article here: New evidence for stem cells that spur cancer’s growth