Here’s a short excerpt from a fascinating article that just ran on about drug resistance in cancer cells:

Cancer stem cells linked to drug resistance

Most drugs used to treat lung, breast and pancreatic cancers also promote drug-resistance and ultimately spur tumor growth. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered a molecule, or biomarker, called CD61 on the surface of drug-resistant tumors that appears responsible for inducing tumor metastasis by enhancing the stem cell-like properties of cancer cells.

The findings, published in the April 20, 2014 online issue of Nature Cell Biology, may point to new therapeutic opportunities for reversing in a range of cancers, including those in the lung, pancreas and breast.

“There are a number of drugs that patients respond to during their initial cancer treatment, but relapse occurs when cancer cells become drug-resistant,” said David Cheresh, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Pathology and UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center associate director for Innovation and Industry Alliances. “We looked at the cells before and after they became resistant and asked, ‘What has changed in the cells?'”

Cheresh and colleagues investigated how become resistant to drugs like erlotinib or lapatinib, known as receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors and commonly used in standard cancer therapies. They found that as drug resistance occurs, tumor cells acquire stem cell-like properties that give them the capacity to survive throughout the body and essentially ignore the drugs…

When lung cancer cells become drug resistant, tumor cells return as shown in brown. Credit: UC San Diego School of Medicine
When lung cancer cells become drug resistant, tumor cells return as shown in brown. Credit: UC San Diego School of Medicine


Click on the link below to read more:

I have been reading a lot about this lately.  Like “immunotherapy,” “stem cells” have become a hopeful harbinger to the future.  But that doesn’t make any of it true.  Could stem cells be a key to unlocking some of cancer’s secrets in the future?  Possibly.  Next month or even next year?  Unlikely.

No, research like this could take a decade or more to start saving very many lives.  I say “very many” because it is more likely that a breakthrough like this will be a small one; helping a few patients from one or more subsets of a specific cancer or two.

Hope I’m wrong.  But here’s the thing.  These days we’re hearing about research that a decade or two ago wouldn’t even make page 18 of the newspaper in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Granted, computers help speed the research process.  But now enough–at least so far.  Hope I’m wrong!

Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat


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