Toronto Canada -
Researchers at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto published in todays journal Nature the identification of a cell population within the bulk tumour mass that possesses the functional characteristics of a tumor stem cell.
In a paper entitled "A human colon cancer cell capable of initiating tumour growth in immunodeficient mice." John Dick's group essentially demonstrated that cells expressing the marker CD133 are capable of initiating colon cancer formation in immune compromised mice wherease cells lacking this marker can not.
CD133+ cells are approximately 1 in 200 of the cells comprising average colon cancer samples.
The identification of colon cancer stem cells will allow for the generation of therapies that specifically target tumor stem cells, which at present is not occuring.