Normally, blood stem cells are able to outcompete leukemia cells in the bone marrow cavity where they are produced. However, the researchers found that cancer stem cells, like a nightmare contractor, remodel the bone marrow cavity so it’s more favorable for leukemia cells and less hospitable for healthy blood stem cells. Leukemia cells can move in and proliferate in the renovated bone marrow cavity.
|Emmanuelle Passegue, a CIRM grantee at UCSF|
In a press release, Passegue described how cancer stem cells do their damage,
“They remodel the microenvironment so that it is basically callous, kicking the normal stem cells out of the bone marrow and encouraging the production of even more leukemic cells”The study was published online in the scientific journal Cell Stem Cell last week.
This finding could lead to new targets for cancer drug therapies. Currently, the only treatment for late stage leukemia is bone marrow transplants – and only one in four succeeds in beating back the disease.
|Amy Wagers of Harvard's Stem Cell Institute|
The next HSCI/California Junior Faculty Symposium – the meeting that helped Passague and Wagers stay connected – will be in November at UCLA.