Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study Supports Stem Cell Origin Of Cancer

Date:
January 10, 2007
Source:
University of Southern California
Summary:
Researchers at the University of Southern California found genes that are reversibly repressed in embryonic stem cells are over-represented among genes that are permanently silenced in cancers.

Researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) recently made significant strides toward settling a decades-old debate centering on the role played by stem cells in cancer development. According to the study's findings, which appear in an upcoming issue of Nature Genetics and now available online, genes that are reversibly repressed in embryonic stem cells are over-represented among genes that are permanently silenced in cancers; this link lends support to the increasingly discussed theory that cancer is rooted in small populations of stem cells.

Related Articles


USC researchers uncovered this link after observing that of 177 genes repressed by Polycomb group (PcG) proteins, fully 77 showed evidence of cancer-associated enzymatic modification of DNA (known as methylation). "Finding that a Polycomb target in an embryonic stem cell is 12 times more likely to become abnormally methylated in cancer is highly significant," says Peter Laird, Ph.D., one of the lead researchers and associate professor of surgery, biochemistry and molecular biology, and director of basic research for surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

Laird and his colleagues discovered that some genes repressed by Polycomb in embryonic stem cells are essentially pre-marked to become permanently silenced by DNA methylation. "This permanent silencing," Laird explains, "prevents embryonic stem cells from differentiating, and they thus become the seeds of cancer development later in life." USC researchers made these observations in relation to breast, colorectal, lung, and ovarian cancer.

Not only does the USC study provide empirical evidence for a stem cell origin of cancer, but, according to Laird, "It also supports a very early involvement of epigenetics in cancer. We found that cancer arises in cells that have already undergone epigenetic alterations," he adds, "which points to epigenetic events preceding genetic events in cancer development." Laird notes that this theory, while relatively new, is gaining support among scientists.

Findings from the USC study also can be applied to stem cell research funded by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), which was created through passage of California Proposition 71 in 2004. "One of CIRM's aims," says Laird, "is to culture and differentiate embryonic stems cells -- cells that would then be placed into patients. Since our research shows that cancer is rooted in stem cells, it would be very important to screen for the epigenetic abnormalities that we uncovered, so as to prevent people from receiving potentially cancer-prone cells."

Looking ahead, Laird and his USC colleagues would next like to focus on what causes some genes to transition from temporary repression to permanent silencing. "Once we determine that," Laird explains, "we can turn to the fundamental question: How can we prevent this transition?"

Laird collaborated with colleagues at USC and England's University College London.

This work was supported by grants from the European Union and from the FWF Austrian Science Fund awarded to Dr. Martin Widschwendter and by a National Institutes of Health grant awarded to Laird.

Reference: Martin Widschwendter, Heidi Fiegl, Daniel Egle, Elisabeth Mueller-Holzner, Gilbert Spizzo, Christian Marth, Daniel J. Weisenberger, Mihaela Campan, Joanne Young, Ian Jacobs, Peter W. Laird, "Epigenetic Stem Cell Signature in Cancer," Nature Genetics, February 2007, Volume 39, Number 2.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Southern California. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Southern California. "Study Supports Stem Cell Origin Of Cancer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 January 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070109094101.htm>.
University of Southern California. (2007, January 10). Study Supports Stem Cell Origin Of Cancer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070109094101.htm
University of Southern California. "Study Supports Stem Cell Origin Of Cancer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070109094101.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) — Advances in prosthetics are making replacement body parts stronger and more lifelike than they’ve ever been. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — Need another reason to eat yogurt every day? Researchers now say it could reduce a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins