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March 6, 2008

Protein In Embryonic Stem Cells Control Malignant Tumor Cells

Topics: Melanoma

GEN10000106.jpgA team of Northwestern University researchers have discovered that a protein that governs development of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) also inhibits the growth and spread of malignant melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer.

Metastatic melanoma, which develops from the transformation of skin pigment cells or melanocytes, has a death rate of more than 80 percent and a median survival of less than 7.5 months:

[...] the protein, called Lefty, prevents aggressive breast cancer cells from metastasizing. Death from metastatic breast cancer exceeded 40,000 in 2007, with over 180,000 new cases diagnosed in the United States.

Importantly, Lefty is secreted only in hESCs, and not in any other stem cell type tested -- including stem cells isolated from amniotic fluid, cord blood or adult bone marrow -- or placental cells.

... Results of the study, described in an article in the March 3rd online version of The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, build on an elegant body of research by the Hendrix lab to identify the genes and cellular pathways involved in cancer metastasis.

Continue reading: Protein In Embryonic Stem Cells Control Malignant Tumor Cells

Suggested reading: Melanoma Metastasis

(Image: Human melanoma cell dividing - Giles Newton at The Human Genome)

Posted by Richard at March 6, 2008 11:24 AM


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