Nav: Home

Esophageal cancer 'cell of origin' identified

October 11, 2017

NEW YORK, NY (October 11, 2017)--Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) researchers have identified cells in the upper digestive tract that can give rise to Barrett's esophagus, a precursor to esophageal cancer. The discovery of this "cell of origin" promises to accelerate the development of more precise screening tools and therapies for Barrett's esophagus and esophageal adenocarcinoma, the fastest growing form of cancer in the U.S.

The findings, made in mice and in human tissue, were published in today's online edition of Nature.

In Barrett's esophagus, some of the tissue in the tube connecting the mouth to the stomach are replaced by intestinal-like tissue, causing heartburn and difficulty swallowing. Most cases of Barrett's stem from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)--chronic regurgitation of acid from the stomach into the lower esophagus. A small percentage of people with Barrett's esophagus develop esophageal adenocarcinoma, the most common form of esophageal cancer.

Incidence of esophageal adenocarcinoma has risen by 800 percent over the past four decades. However, there has been little progress in screening and treatment over the same period. If esophageal cancer is not detected early, patients typically survive less than a year after diagnosis.

Researchers have proposed at least five models of Barrett's esophagus, each based on a different cell type. "However, none of these experimental models mimics all of the characteristics of the condition," said study leader Jianwen Que, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at CUMC. "This led us to believe that there must be another, yet-to-be-discovered, cell of origin for Barrett's esophagus."

In the current study, Dr. Que and his colleague Ming Jiang, PhD, an associate research scientist in CUMC's Department of Medicine and first author of the paper, genetically altered mice to promote the development of Barrett's esophagus. His team then examined the mice's gastroesophageal junction tissue for changes. "All of the known cells in this tissue remained the same, but we found a previously unidentified zone populated by unique basal progenitor cells," he said. Progenitor cells are early descendants of stem cells that can differentiate into one or more specific cell types.

Dr. Que's team then performed a technique called lineage tracing to determine if these unique basal progenitor cells, tagged with a fluorescent protein, can give rise to Barrett's esophagus. In the tests, several mouse models were used to show that bile acid reflux or genetic changes promote expansion of these cells, leading to the development of Barrett's esophagus. The same observations were made in organoids (artificially grown masses of cells that resemble an organ) created from unique basal progenitor cells that were isolated from the gastroesophageal junction in mice and humans.

"Now that we know the cell of origin for Barrett's esophagus, the next step is to develop therapies that target these cells or the signaling pathways that are activated by acid reflux," said Dr. Que.
-end-
The study is titled, "Transitional basal cells at the squamous-columnar junction generate Barrett's oesophagus." The other contributors are: Haiyan Li (Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY), Yongchun Zhang (CUMC), Ying Yang (CUMC), Rong Lu (CUMC), Kuancan Liu (CUMC and Fuzhou General Hospital, Fuzhou, Fujian, China), Sijie Lin (CUMC and Fuzhou General Hospital), Xiaopeng Lan (Fuzhou General Hospital), Haikun Wang (Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghaim, China), Han Wu (Ascendas Genomics Inc., Zhongshan, Guandong, China), Jian Zhu (University of Rochester, Rochester, NY), Zhongren Zhou (University of Rochester), Jianming Xu (Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX), Dong-Kee Lee (Baylor College of Medicine), Lanjing Zhang (University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro, Plainsboro, NJ, and Rutgers University, Newark, NJ), Yuan-Cho Lee (CUMC), Jingsong Yuan (CUMC), Julian A. Abrams (CUMC), Timothy G. Wang (CUMC), Antonia R. Sepulveda (CUMC), Qi Wu (Tianjin Haihe Hospital, Tianjin. China), Huaiyong Chen (Tianjin Haihe Hospital), Xin Sun (Tianjin Haihe Hospital), Junjun She (Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, China), and Xiaoxin Chen (North Carolina Central University, Durham, NC).

The study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (R01DK113144, R01DK100342, R01HL132996, R01CA112403, and R01CA193455), March of Dimes, Price Family Foundation, the National Key Research and Development Program of China, National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Program for the Top Young Innovative Talents of Fujian Province, and the International Collaborative Project of Fujian Province.

The authors report no financial or other conflicts of interest.

Columbia University Medical Center provides international leadership in basic, preclinical, and clinical research; medical and health sciences education; and patient care. The medical center trains future leaders and includes the dedicated work of many physicians, scientists, public health professionals, dentists, and nurses at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Mailman School of Public Health, the College of Dental Medicine, the School of Nursing, the biomedical departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and allied research centers and institutions. Columbia University Medical Center is home to the largest medical research enterprise in New York City and State and one of the largest faculty medical practices in the Northeast. The campus that Columbia University Medical Center shares with its hospital partner, NewYork-Presbyterian, is now called the Columbia University Irving Medical Center. For more information, visit cumc.columbia.edu or columbiadoctors.org.

Columbia University Medical Center

Related Stem Cells Articles:

A protein that stem cells require could be a target in killing breast cancer cells
Researchers have identified a protein that must be present in order for mammary stem cells to perform their normal functions.
Approaching a decades-old goal: Making blood stem cells from patients' own cells
Researchers at Boston Children's Hospital have, for the first time, generated blood-forming stem cells in the lab using pluripotent stem cells, which can make virtually every cell type in the body.
New research finds novel method for generating airway cells from stem cells
Researchers have developed a new approach for growing and studying cells they hope one day will lead to curing lung diseases such as cystic fibrosis through 'personalized medicine.'
Mature heart muscle cells created in the laboratory from stem cells
Generating mature and viable heart muscle cells from human or other animal stem cells has proven difficult for biologists.
Mutations in bone cells can drive leukemia in neighboring stem cells
DNA mutations in bone cells that support blood development can drive leukemia formation in nearby blood stem cells.
Scientists take aging cardiac stem cells out of semiretirement to improve stem cell therapy
With age, the chromosomes of our cardiac stem cells compress as they move into a state of safe, semiretirement.
Purest yet liver-like cells generated from induced pluripotent stem cells
A team of researchers from the Medical University of South Carolina and elsewhere has found a better way to purify liver cells made from induced pluripotent stem cells.
Stem cell scientists discover genetic switch to increase supply of stem cells from cord blood
International stem cell scientists, co-led in Canada by Dr. John Dick and in the Netherlands by Dr.
Stem cells from diabetic patients coaxed to become insulin-secreting cells
Signaling a potential new approach to treating diabetes, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St.

Related Stem Cells Reading:

Stem Cell Therapy: A Rising Tide: How Stem Cells Are Disrupting Medicine and Transforming Lives
by Neil H Riordan (Author)

Stem cells are the repair cells of your body.  When there aren’t enough of them, or they aren’t working properly, chronic diseases can manifest and persist. From industry leaders, sport stars, and Hollywood icons to thousands of everyday, ordinary people, stem cell therapy has helped when standard medicine failed. Many of them had lost hope. These are their stories.

Neil H Riordan, author of MSC: Clinical Evidence Leading Medicine’s Next Frontier, the definitive textbook on clinical stem cell therapy, brings you an easy-to-read book about how and why stem cells work,... View Details


Stem Cells: An Insider's Guide
by Paul Knoepfler (Author)

Stem Cells: An Insider's Guide is an exciting new book that takes readers inside the world of stem cells guided by international stem cell expert, Dr. Paul Knoepfler. Stem cells are catalyzing a revolution in medicine. The book also tackles the exciting and hotly debated area of stem cell treatments that are capturing the public's imagination. In the future they may also transform how we age and reproduce. However, there are serious risks and ethical challenges, too. The author's goal with this insider's guide is to give readers the information needed to distinguish between the... View Details


The Stem Cell Revolution
by Mark Berman MD (Author), Elliot Lander MD (Contributor)

The book describes the journey into the growing arena of clinical stem cell therapy by highlighting not only the road that brought a team of physicians together but also real stories from a number of their patients that were given their health back through the magic of stem cell therapy. Your fat is loaded with stem cells that can be used now to treat and reverse a large number of inflammatory and degenerative conditions. Most people have no idea that these magical cells actually exist right within our bodies. They think that they must wait until Big Pharma or a university PhD manufactures... View Details


Stem Cells Are Everywhere
by Irv Weissman MD (Author)

An engaging introduction to stem cells for young scientists
 
How do you heal when you cut your skin or break a bone? How does your body keep making new blood or brain cells, or even second teeth? How does a plant keep growing larger? The answers lie in stem cells, which are found in every growing plant and animal. Keeping the subject simple enough for young readers, a pioneer of stem cell research explains cells, tissues, normal growth, what can go wrong, and how to fix it. View Details


Stem Cells For Dummies
by Lawrence S.B. Goldstein (Author), Meg Schneider (Author)

The first authoritative yet accessible guide to this controversial topic

Stem Cell Research For Dummies offers a balanced, plain-English look at this politically charged topic, cutting away the hype and presenting the facts clearly for you, free from debate. It explains what stem cells are and what they do, the legalities of harvesting them and using them in research, the latest research findings from the U.S. and abroad, and the prospects for medical stem cell therapies in the short and long term.

Explains the differences between adult stem cells and embryonic/umbilical... View Details


Stem Cells: A Very Short Introduction
by Jonathan Slack (Author)

Embryonic stem cells have been hot-button topics in recent years, generating intense public interest as well as much confusion and misinformation. In this Very Short Introduction, leading authority Jonathan Slack offers a clear and informative overview of stem cells--what they are, what scientists do with them, what stem cell therapies are available today, and how they might be used in the future. Slack explains the difference between embryonic stem cells, which exist only in laboratory cultures, and tissue-specific stem cells, which exist in our bodies, and he discusses how... View Details


Stem Cells: A Short Course
by Rob Burgess (Author)

Stem Cells: A Short Course is a comprehensive text for students delving into the rapidly evolving discipline of stem cell research. Comprised of eight chapters, the text addresses all of the major facets and disciplines related to stem cell biology and research. A brief history of stem cell research serves as an introduction, followed by coverage of stem cell fundamentals; chapters then explore embryonic and fetal amniotic stem cells, adult stem cells, nuclear reprogramming, and cancer stem cells. The book concludes with chapters on stem cell applications, including the role of stem... View Details


The Stem Cell Hope: How Stem Cell Medicine Can Change Our Lives
by Alice Park (Author)

A landmark book by the senior science writer at Time magazine introduces us to a medical breakthrough that can save our lives. 

Few people know much about stem cell research beyond the ethical questions raised by using embryos. But in the last decade, stem cell research has made huge advances toward eliminating some of our most intractable diseases. Now this sweeping and accessible book introduces us to this cutting-edge science that will revolutionize medicine and change the way we think about and treat disease. 

Alice Park takes us from stem cell's... View Details


Essentials of Stem Cell Biology, Third Edition
by Robert Lanza (Editor), Anthony Atala (Editor)

First developed as an accessible abridgement of the successful Handbook of Stem Cells, Essentials of Stem Cell Biology serves the needs of the evolving population of scientists, researchers, practitioners, and students embracing the latest advances in stem cells. Representing the combined effort of 7 editors and more than 200 scholars and scientists whose pioneering work has defined our understanding of stem cells, this book combines the prerequisites for a general understanding of adult and embryonic stem cells with a presentation by the world's experts of the latest... View Details


Stem Cells: Promise and Reality
by Lygia V Pereira (Author)

Stem Cells: Promises and Reality will tell you everything you have always wanted to know about stem cells, but could not understand the field from elsewhere. Stem cells are the great therapeutic promise of the century, and this evolving field of research and medicine brings with it many legal, ethical and psychological issues that must be discussed by society as a whole. Written so as to be accessible to general readers as well as specialists, this book explains what stem cells are, and the different aspects of stem cell research and applications. The book will enable the reader to understand... View Details

Best Science Podcasts 2017

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2017. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Manipulation
We think we're the ones who control what we see, read, think and remember. But is that true? Who decides? And who should decide? This hour, TED speakers reveal just how easily we can be manipulated. Guests include design ethicist Tristan Harris, MSNBC host Ali Velshi, psychologist Elizabeth Loftus, and neuroscientist Steve Ramirez.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#443 Batteries
This week on Science for the People we take a deep dive into modern batteries: how they work now and how they might work in the future. We speak with Gerbrand Ceder from UC Berkeley, about the most commonly used batteries today, how they work, and how they could work better. And we talk with Kathryn Toghill, electrochemist from Lancaster University, about redox flow batteries and how they could help make our power grids more sustainable.