Stem cell interactions could start and stop cancer

13 August 2015

It has been suggested that the way in which stem cells communicate could be responsible for causing cancer - but may also offer a cure, according to a new study.

Researchers at the Texas A&M Health Science Center Institute of Biosciences and Technology looked into the role of a group of proteins that control cell interactions, called fibroblast growth factor (FGF). It appears that changes in the way that FGF works can cause stem cells in organs to grow at an uncontrolled rate, eventually causing cancer.

Lead author Fen Wang said: "FGF is truly the Cinderella of cancer research. For decades it has been overlooked by big pharmaceutical companies because its role in cells is so complex. Now that we are starting to understand it, everyone is rushing to pay attention to the new star.”

It is thought that FGF could be the cause of cancers resisting current therapies, or returning after treatment has been completed, especially in cases where it reappears in a different part of the body, sometimes after years of a patient being tumour-free.

Posted by Philip Briggs

 

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