Sick Kids researchers confirm that cancer stem cells initiate and grow brain tumours

November 17, 2004

TORONTO -- Researchers at The Hospital for Sick Children (Sick Kids) and the University of Toronto (U of T) have confirmed that childhood and adult brain tumours originate from cancer stem cells and that these stem cells fuel and maintain tumour growth. This discovery has led to development of a mouse model for human brain tumours and opens the door for new therapeutic targets for the treatment of brain tumours. This research is reported in the November 18, 2004 issue of the scientific journal Nature.

"Now that we have confirmed that a small number of cancer stem cells initiates and maintains human brain tumour growth in a mouse model, we can potentially use the mouse model with each patient's tumour cells to see if therapies are working to conquer that patient's tumour," said Dr. Peter Dirks, the study's principal investigator, a scientist and neurosurgeon at Sick Kids, and an assistant professor of Neurosurgery at U of T. "A functional analysis of the brain tumour stem cell may also give new insight into patient prognosis that may then warrant individual tailoring of therapy."

Dr. Dirks' laboratory was able to regrow an exact replica of patients' brain tumours in a mouse from the isolated cancer stem cells, or brain tumour initiating cells. They were then able to study the growth of the human brain tumour in the mouse model using the advanced imaging technology in the Mouse Imaging Centre (MiCE) at Sick Kids.

Brain tumours are the leading cause of cancer mortality in children and remain difficult to cure despite advances in surgery and drug treatments. In adults, most brain tumours are also among the harshest cancers with formidable resistance to most therapies.

"Next, we are going to study the gene expression of the brain tumour stem cells. Once we have identified what genes are expressed in those cells, we will then be able to target these genes using new drugs or genetic-type therapies," said Dr. Sheila Singh, the paper's lead author and Sick Kids neurosurgery resident and U of T graduate student who is enrolled in Sick Kids' Clinician-Scientist Training Program. Dr. Singh was supported by a fellowship from The Terry Fox Foundation, as well as by funding from the Neurosurgical Research and Education Foundation and the American Brain Tumor Association.

"We have shown that it is really worthwhile to invest further in studying brain tumour stem cells, as we will be able to determine if current therapies are failing because they are not stopping the cancer stem cells," added Dr. Dirks. "It also looks like cancer stem cells play a role in other solid tumours such as breast cancer, so we can all work together to develop new treatments for these cancers."

Other members of the research team included Dr. Cynthia Hawkins, Dr. Ian Clarke, Dr. Takuichiro Hide and Dr. Mark Henkelman, all from Sick Kids, Dr. Jeremy Squire and Jane Bayani from the Ontario Cancer Institute, and Dr. Michael Cusimano from St. Michael's Hospital.
-end-
This research was supported by the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Sick Kids Foundation (including support from BrainChild, the Jack Baker family fund and the Jessica Durigon family fund). MiCE is supported with funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, Ontario Innovation Trust, the Ontario Research and Development Challenge Fund and Sick Kids Foundation.

The Hospital for Sick Children, affiliated with the University of Toronto, is Canada's most research-intensive hospital and the largest centre dedicated to improving children's health in the country. Its mission is to provide the best in family-centred, compassionate care, to lead in scientific and clinical advancement, and to prepare the next generation of leaders in child health.

University of Toronto

Related Cancer Stem Cells Articles from Brightsurf:

More selective elimination of leukemia stem cells and blood stem cells
Hematopoietic stem cells from a healthy donor can help patients suffering from acute leukemia.

On the trail of cancer stem cells
What goes on inside and between individual cells during the very earliest stages of tumor development?

Plant-derived SVC112 hits cancer stem cells, leaves healthy cells alone
Study shows Colorado drug SVC112 stops production of proteins that cancer stem cells need to survive and grow.

Discovery: New biomarker for cancer stem cells
A University of Houston College of Pharmacy associate professor has discovered a new biomarker in cancer stem cells that govern cancer survival and spread, and it's raising hope that drug discovery to kill cancer stem cells could follow suit.

NUS researchers show potential liver cancer treatment by targeting cancer stem-like cells
NUS researchers from the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore and the N.1 Institute for Health have shown the potential use of small molecule inhibitors to treat advanced liver cancer.

Killing the seeds of cancer: A new finding shows potential in destroying cancer stem cells
When doctors remove a tumor surgically or use targeted therapies, the cancer may appear to be gone.

The development of brain stem cells into new nerve cells and why this can lead to cancer
Stem cells are true Jacks-of-all-trades of our bodies, as they can turn into the many different cell types of all organs.

Proposed cancer treatment may boost lung cancer stem cells, study warns
Epigenetic therapies -- targeting enzymes that alter what genes are turned on or off in a cell -- are of growing interest in the cancer field as a way of making a cancer less aggressive or less malignant.

How targeting metabolism can defeat cancer stem cells
Researchers have found that cancer stem cells exist in more than one state and can change form, sliding back and forth between a dormant state and a rapidly growing state.

In mice, stem cells seem to work in fighting obesity! What about stem cells in humans?
This release aims to summarize the available literature in regard to the effect of Mesenchymal Stem Cells transplantation on obesity and related comorbidities from the animal model.

Read More: Cancer Stem Cells News and Cancer Stem Cells Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.