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New approach may allow researchers to identify cancer stem cells

Category: Cancer Detection and Tumor Markers

British researchers have reportedly developed a new method of identifying and studying cancer stem cells, a discovery that may enable scientists to produce drugs that target them.

Cancer stem cells are especially dangerous because they have the ability to drive a tumor's growth by producing additional cancerous cells. For scientists, studying these cells has been particularly slow because it is extremely difficult to identify and separate them from normal tissue.

Dr Trevor Yeung, of Oxford University's Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, and his colleagues were able to develop a process of harvesting cancer stem cells and maintaining them in cell cultures in the lab, according to Health Day.

The researchers feel that this approach may allow scientists to discover the role that cancer stem cells have in tumor growth and should facilitate the screening of cancer-related drugs.

"Working with cell lines is a much more convenient way to study these cells than using samples taken from human patients or using animal models," said lead researcher Walter Bodmer. "We can now evaluate anti-cancer drugs better to see whether they attack cancer stem cells."

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