Breast Cancer Advice. Keep up to date with the latest information and treatment of breast cancer.
A Member of the Healthscout Network
 Printer Friendly  Send to a Friend

Normal Cells May Predict Cancer Virulence

Finding suggests that treatment that only aims at malignant cells might fall short

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Aug. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Characteristics of normal cells which are present long before any tumor appears may determine how virulent a particular cancer is going to be, new research suggests.

Such cells may travel early on to distant sites in the body, residing innocently there until certain cancer genes are turned on.

Advertisement
Related Stories
 border=
Grape Seed Extract Kills Leukemia Cells in Lab
High Insulin May Boost Odds of Breast Cancer
Cancer Medicine Advances on Many Fronts
Related Videos
 border=
A Welcome Message from Survivor PJ Hamel
Smother Says "Cut!"
Maryann and Paula
Related Slides
 border=
Breast Cancer
Breast Self-Exam


"It's definitely conceptually very profound," said Dr. Katrina Podsypanina, a senior research scientist at Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. "Our data seems to point toward the inherent decision that is made when the tumor is formed whether it is highly malignant or not. Moreover, since the characteristic might be dependent on the normal cell status, one might imagine that they might be different between individuals."

The study's senior author is Harold Varmus, who won the 1989 Nobel Prize for his work in cancer genetics and later went on to become director of the National Institutes of Health.

The finding implies that treatments that only target malignant cells may not be effective.

So far, however, the findings have only been shown in mice, and the research involved certain processes that were imposed which wouldn't normally occur in the human body.

"This does suggest that cells can sit for a long time, then be activated," said Dr. Claudine Isaacs, director of the clinical breast cancer program at Georgetown's Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in Washington, D.C. "But these cells were injected into the circulation. Normal breast cells are not supposed to be in the circulation."

Also, the normal cells didn't form tumors until activated.

Conventional medical wisdom holds that the spread of a cancer occurs relatively late in the life of a cancer, happening only after cells from the primary tumor have undergone enough mutations to switch on different cancer genes.

Podsypanina and her colleagues performed a series of experiments in mice.

First, they injected normal mammary cells that contained cancer-inducing oncogenes, which could be switched on and off. These cells migrated through the bloodstream to the lungs, residing there for four months. They did not begin to grow aggressively until the oncogenes had been turned on, but they did so without first going through the stage of being a primary tumor.

Next, they injected normal cells without manipulating any oncogenes.

"Cells that did not have any oncogenes in them and do not transform spontaneously as per all published studies, we could see little colonies of these cells when we inspected the lungs," Podsypanina said. "At no point, never, did we see a solid vision that would resemble metastatic colonies, [but] it appears that every time we looked at the animal, the colonies appeared to be larger."

When these normal ectopic cells were injected back into a new generation of mice, they developed into normal mammary glands.

"It's a beginning," Podsypanina said. "It's an important step to show whether or not the first step of the metastatic cascade is something a normal cell can accomplish."

More information

Visit the American Cancer Society for more on oncogenes.

SOURCES: Katrina Podsypanina, M.D., Ph.D., senior research scientist, department of cancer biology and genetics, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York City; Claudine Isaacs, M.D., director, clinical breast cancer program, Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.; Aug. 28, 2008, Science

Copyright © 2008 ScoutNews, LLC. All rights reserved.
Last updated 8/28/2008



Disclaimer: The information provided on this website is for educational purposes only and does not serve as a replacement for care provided by your own personal health care team. This website does not render or provide medical advice, and no individual should make any medical decisions or change their health behavior based on information provided here. All pertinent content provided on this website should be discussed with your personal physician to evaluate whether it has any relevance to or impact on your specific condition. Reliance on any information provided by this website is solely at your own risk.


Jan 6, 2009
Home
Search
Powered By HealthLine
New! For timely and trustworth health information, expert advice and much more, visit Breast Cancer Connection
Patient Guide
News
Health Videos
Health Encyclopedia
Health News Archive
Affiliate Information
HealthScout Network
Contact Us
Newsletters
Privacy Policy
Terms of Use

We comply with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health
information:
verify here.
About The HealthScout Network Contact Us
Copyright 2001. The HealthCentralNetwork, Inc. All rights reserved.
Privacy Policy  Terms of Service  

To find more information on specific conditions, please visit our partner sites: