The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: Skin cells to stem cells and cancer question  (Read 16725 times)

Offline Honda2000

  • First timers
  • *
  • Posts: 4
    • View Profile
Skin cells to stem cells and cancer question
« on: 03/12/2007 23:09:37 »
Hello,

I was reading an article here:

newbielink:http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/21/science/21stem.html [nonactive]

about how a Japanese scientist has created stem cells from skin cells.  My question is could it be possible to get the cancerous stem cells that are apparently at the centre of all tumour development to reset or reboot themselves and become healthy stem cells by using this scientist's technique or a similar one?  He added four genes to a skin cell to make it become a stem cell.

I am not sure about this but presumably the cancerous stem cells at the centre of a tumour once were healthy stem cells servicing the workings of some organ in the body but which became corrupted and cancerous.  If they could be reset to their original form then maybe the stem cells would stop building the tumour and restart the functions they had when they were healthy stem cells.

Another good article on stem cells possibly being the key to curing cancer is here:

newbielink:http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/21/health/21canc.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&pagewanted=1&adxnnlx=1196722450-kih54H1/PwFzTw0nAnpebw [nonactive]


It mentions targeting the cancerous stem cells with treatments rather than just treating the regular cancerous tissue cells.

Thanks

Al


 

Offline Karen W.

  • Moderator
  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *****
  • Posts: 31653
  • Thanked: 5 times
  • "come fly with me"
    • View Profile
Skin cells to stem cells and cancer question
« Reply #1 on: 05/12/2007 10:01:27 »
Welcome to the forum AL, and I hope you continue to join in and offer more here and that you take away a good amount of valuable information as well as just adding to ours. Welcome.. enjoy!

Both very interesting articles and the whole idea of being able to add genes to the skin cells to have it regenerate into a stem cell is very interesting.

I hope they continue to explore this and further investigate why 20% turned into cancer cells, I understand they used a cancer gene or cell.. I was a bit confused on this part. It is something I would like to hear some more about.

Thanks for the links and the thoughts... perhaps you could help me understand what that part was about as somehow my head seems to be confusing that portion of the information.

By the way the articles say that current treatment kills 99 percent of the cancer cells but leaves 1% which is not killed and thus the 1% regenerates itself spreading the cancer so they need to work on a way to combat that 1% that is not being dealt with by the treatment!

It is interesting. I hope that it is possible to continue the research and find a way to repair the cells and get them back to their normal function!

« Last Edit: 05/12/2007 10:08:44 by Karen W. »
 

Offline Honda2000

  • First timers
  • *
  • Posts: 4
    • View Profile
Skin cells to stem cells and cancer question
« Reply #2 on: 07/12/2007 00:21:44 »
Hi Karen, thanks for the welcome.  This is a nice forum and website. 

If I understand correctly (it is deep stuff this and I am no doctor) They added a cancer gene using a virus along with 3

other genes to get the transformation from skin to stem cell.  But when they created new mice from the stem cells 20% of

them developed cancer. So some of the stem cells may have gotten corrupted DNA perhaps from the random nature that the virus

slips it in the chromosome.

They need to find out what the final 1% of cells left are, if they are cancerous stem cells that don't get knocked out by

the treatment then a new drug or method will be needed.  I am not sure but I believe I read somewhere that the ordinary

cancerous tissue cells shed by a tumour into the rest of the body are destroyed by the immune system.  Thus perhaps the

cancerous shed cells that are not killed by the immune system might be the 1% cancerous stem cells that travel and land

somewhere else in the body and start a new cancer tumour. 

Perhaps a cancerous stem cell lands somewhere in the body like the lungs or something and then begins to think its job is to

produce lung cells so it tries to produce these but because it is cancerous it can only produce corrupted lung cells that

just grow into a malformed tumour.  If stem cells are in a sense immortal then they are could well be the 1% of cancer cells

capable of resisting drug treatments.  So perhaps viruses filled with drugs or genes that can kill stem cells, but only

cancerous stem cells, will finish off the 1%?

I sure hope they can wipe out cancer in the near future because so much is being done in this field, and 1 in 3 people will

get cancer at some point in their lives they said on the news the other day.


Al
 

Offline Karen W.

  • Moderator
  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *****
  • Posts: 31653
  • Thanked: 5 times
  • "come fly with me"
    • View Profile
Skin cells to stem cells and cancer question
« Reply #3 on: 07/12/2007 20:43:35 »
I have dealt with cancer with my mom and grandma. It is a horrible disease.
  so it may be that 1% that metastasizes and spreads to a new place. so that is the 1% we need to be able to kill off.

That would be good if they could find a way to get that last bit. So many people could really benefit.
 

manicgeek

  • Guest
Skin cells to stem cells and cancer question
« Reply #4 on: 27/12/2007 01:35:20 »
The trick here is to understand the cell reproduction cycle, what proteins cause/suspend it. From there we should be looking for why that fails sometimes, and then how to a) prevent failures in that cycle (this will prevent tumors) b) change the behaviour of failed cells to stop them reproducing copies of themselves (this will cause any tumor to die naturally)

This stem cell research is really interesting, but in and of itself it won't produce a cure for cancer... it will hopefully mean that research into the subject will become easier and that some of the debate about medical research with animals will go away. It might also lead to a patient specific genetic fix in time... but that's a hell of a long way off. We don't even understand all of the functions and their triggers in the cell life cycle yet.
 

Offline Honda2000

  • First timers
  • *
  • Posts: 4
    • View Profile
Skin cells to stem cells and cancer question
« Reply #5 on: 30/01/2008 23:57:56 »
Thanks for your replies.  Sorry I took while to check back again I have had a hellish month.

Like you have experienced with your mother and grandmother Karen, my mother has cancer too.   
She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and has had the tumour removed with the hysterectomy.  It shed some cells I believe before it was taken out and the doc says some cells may travel upwards later on but he got out all he could see.  She is on Carboplatin and all her hair has fallen out.

Naturally I just wish to try and learn as much as I can about cancer and what treatments are out there.  There may not be a cure but it is better to know your enemy I believe, then at least you can pursue treatments that you feel you can believe will be more effective. 

Cancer sure is a complex nasty monster.  Thanks for your comments too Manicgeek.  I think what you say about the cell reproduction cycle and how to fix errors with it is the way to go.  I heard some researchers at the London research institute have potentially found a way to block the protein that causes the creeping from organ to organ effect metastasis, and thus can anchor the tumour in once location.  Could help to limit the damaging effects of the chemo too I think they said on the BBC by perhaps needing to use less of it if combined with this protein blocking.  While it is very interesting it still needs a way to find a method to block completely.

newbielink:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7161762.stm [nonactive]


 

Offline Karen W.

  • Moderator
  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *****
  • Posts: 31653
  • Thanked: 5 times
  • "come fly with me"
    • View Profile
Skin cells to stem cells and cancer question
« Reply #6 on: 31/01/2008 00:03:26 »
I am sorry about your mom too. I miss mine a lot. She had some terrible chemo lost all her hair also. You will have a hard road and cancer is not a very forgiving disease so please take in and make as many good memories as you get a chance to do.. and stay strong and tough.. you will need it. I hope she does really well. Take care of yourself!
 

Offline MayoFlyFarmer

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 863
    • View Profile
    • http://www.myspace.com/wiguyinmn
Skin cells to stem cells and cancer question
« Reply #7 on: 31/01/2008 22:33:22 »
You're correct Al, that putting genes into a cancer cell (like they did to the skin cells in this study to make them stem-cells) is very possibly an efefctive cancer strategy.  In fact most cancer reserach and current theraputics deals with either putting new genes in in the same way, using a similar method to turn existing genes off, or using chemical agents that either alter a gene's expression (turn it on or off, or alter its level) or act on the products of a gene (having the same effect as changing its expression).

The stumbling points come when you try to figure out WHICH genes need to be altered (unfortunately its not the same in every cancer), and how to affect the genes of JUST the cancer cells, and not the rest of the cells in the patients bodies.  (this is important because most of the genes that go awry causing cancer are very important genes, and if we altered them in all of the healthy cells of a patient, it would have profound consequences.)
 

Offline Honda2000

  • First timers
  • *
  • Posts: 4
    • View Profile
Skin cells to stem cells and cancer question
« Reply #8 on: 01/02/2008 16:18:51 »
Thanks a lot Karen and MFF. Sorry to hear you lost your mom Karen. 

For me since there is no cure for cancer in general and my mom wants to understand the illness more too I can at least do something useful and learn more about it and tell her.  If I could take it away I would, as anyone would want to I am sure.

It seems like science is getting closer to understanding the mechanics of cancer much more than in the past.  It almost seems like a cure could be close but its complexity is still intimidating. 

I have found some useful animated medical videos on some of the video internet sites like youtube and such, which helps in the visualisation of how cancer works.  If only there were a way to treat or slow down cancer without the damaging chemotherapy which causes so much damage to healthy cells.  I have also just heard of a friend of my mother who is going in for some kind of nuclear therapy where people will have to stand away from him for a few days because he will be emitting radioactivity or something.  He only has a 5% chance they say.  Poor chap.  I think it is thyroid or lung cancer.  I know there are a lot of horrible ilnesses in the world but when the treatments are so horrible too it makes it all the worse.  I hope scientists can come up with some better ideas on treatments because chemo and radioactivity are frighteningy extreme.   


Al
« Last Edit: 01/02/2008 16:22:03 by Honda2000 »
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Skin cells to stem cells and cancer question
« Reply #8 on: 01/02/2008 16:18:51 »

 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums