Scientists report that stem cells are primarily responsible for the relapse of colon cancer. Stem cells are totipotent cells that have the capacity to grow into any tissue.
Earlier researches have shown that in spite of being treated with chemotherapy, some cancers always return..These include breast cancer, blood cancer and brain cancer. John Dick of the University of Toronto told reporters that researchers were aware that stem cells were the cause for relapse in these cancers. He also said that researchers wanted to find out if a similar mechanism was at work with colon cancer too. Colon cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer death in many parts of the world.
'It's critically important because the reality is that despite the therapies that we have available today, still a great number of people have colon cancer relapse, which means that our therapies are not completely effective,' said John Dick.
The results of this study published in the journal Nature, describes the work of Dick and his colleagues.
They used a stem cell marker, CD133 in colon cancer. CD133 had earlier been tried in prostate and brain cancers. Only a small number of colon cancer cells (about one in 250) were found to be rich in CD133.
Dick and his team of researchers discovered that when human colon cancer cells high in CD133 were injected into mice, the tumors formed at a faster rate; when cells with small amounts of CD133 were given, they hardly grew.
A separate paper also published in Nature supports the study that only a very small number of colon cancer cells are responsible for tumor growth.