Walter and Eliza Hall Institute researchers have…discovered [a new type of] stem cells, which responds to the ‘ovarian hormones’ progesterone and oestrogen [during pregnancy and] may also be linked to a high-risk form of breast cancer.
Professor Jane Visvader said [the new stem cells discovered around the nipple] were normally dormant — sitting quietly and not dividing…”However, when they were exposed to the hormones progesterone and oestrogen, these cells awakened and could rapidly give rise to new breast cells,” she said.
The research also revealed that these stem cells…had many similarities to a subtype of ‘triple negative’ breast cancers known as claudin-low cancers.
“Compared to other types of breast cancer, claudin-low cancers have a high chance of recurrence after treatment, leading to a poor prognosis for patients” Professor Visvader said.
“We hope that our discovery can be used to understand how cancers may arise from long-lived stem cells, and potentially lead to better outcomes for breast cancer patients in the future,” said Professor Geoff Lindeman, who is also a medical oncologist at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.
[The study can be found here.]
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