Do Stem-Like Cancer Cells Have Epithelial or Non-Epithelial Characteristics?

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Tuomas Tammela

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In this image, a lung tumor cells (red) are growing in a mouse. The blue color identifies cancer cells with an epithelial state and the green marks cancer cells with properties of normal tissue stem cells, which display a marker called Lgr5 on their surface. These stem-like cancer cells are very efficient in giving rise to other cancer cells and eliminating them was shown by the authors of this study to stop the tumor from growing. Furthermore, therapeutic targeting of a pathway that maintains the stem-like cells suppressed tumor growth in a similar manner, suggesting that a similar therapeutic strategy could be used in human lung cancer patients.