Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have identified the cancer stem cells that propagate tumors in colon and rectal cancer, a discovery that could lead to improved treatment of this deadly cancer.
These are the latest class of cancer stem cells tracked down by a large, interdisciplinary group of researchers led by Michael Clarke, MD. The discovery is reported in the June 4 advance online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Identifying new cancer stem cells has been a major push within Stanford’s Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, where Clarke serves as associate director. Irving Weissman, MD, director of the institute, said he hopes Stanford researchers will develop cancer therapies that specifically kill these cancer stem cells, eradicating the cancer entirely. Current therapies may kill the bulk of the tumor cells, but if any cancer stem cells remain the tumor will resurface or spread.