Breast cancer stem cells, seem to be obstinate, as scientists have discovered, as they portray a resistance to radiation therapy. As a result, they are extremely difficult to annihilate. In fact radiation could even increase the growth of these stem cells, warn researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, who are the first to have suggested this tendency of stem cells that get radiation resistant and render breast cancer treatments futile.
When the research team subjected breast cancer stem cells and other normal breast cancer cells to single or several doses of radiation, they observed that the cancer causing stem cells survived the radiation as compared to normal breast cancer cells. Later, the team subjected the cells to a bigger dose of 3 Gray, for five days consecutively, and then discontinued the treatment much before completing the stipulated number of sessions.
The study revealed that the number of stem cells had actually gone up. The research team pinned the cause of this to be due to radiation, which could titillate a signaling pathway, giving the message to stem cells, to reactivate and grow. Scientists opine that cells may comprise of an inborn radiation protectant, which is capable of offsetting radiation propelled DNA damage which is the reason behind the death of breast cancer cells.
The findings are published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.