Scientists have come a long way to understanding the genetics of cancer, but they've never been able to track how a single cancerous cells form tumors in the body, or how tumors grow back seemingly from nowhere. According to new research, it sheds some light on the problems, and it suggests that tumors are fueled by cancer stem cells.
The research suggests that a small subset of cells drives tumor growth, and as a result, curing cancer once and for all requires those cells to be eliminated. The work focused on tumors of the brain, gut and skin, and using genetic techniques to track stem cells in animal models. Scientists found that tumors seem to arise from single stem cells and that their presence within a tumor is responsible for fueling its growth.
These three studies provide some evidence to support its accuracy, but while the basic idea that steam cells driving cancer sounds correct, their modes of operation is another mystery altogether.
The presence of cancer stem cells is probably responsible for the regrowth of tumors form nowhere—so if further studies confirm the existence of cancer stem cells in other types of the disease, it could represent a paradigm shift in treatment.
Doctors could shift their attention to merely targeting the correct types of cancer stem cells. Some techniques remain a far way off for now, but this discovery is definitely an interesting one in the battle against cancer in the future. For more in depth analysis, check out: [Nature]