Breast Cancer Cells Transformed into Stem Cells via Radiation Treatments

Radiation Therapy

(Best Syndication News) Researchers say that radiation treatments can turn cancer tumor cells into “treatment resistant breast cancer stem cells.”

Researchers from the UCLA Department of Radiation Oncology at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, say that if they can stop the transformation of these cancer cells into stem cells, radiation treatments could be even more effective.

Although half of the tumor cells are killed-off during radiation treatments, some that remain morph into these stem cells that are resistant to the treatments, according to Dr Frank Pajonk, who is also a scientist with the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine at UCLA.

“We found that these induced breast cancer stem cells (iBCSC) were generated by radiation-induced activation of the same cellular pathways used to reprogram normal cells into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) in regenerative medicine,” Pajonk said.

Pajonk, a UCLA associate professor of radiation oncology since 2005, is also the lead author of the study. Once these cancers are radiated, they use the same reprogramming pathways to fight back against the radiation treatment.

The next step is to figure out a method of controlling the radiation resistance of the stem cells.

“What is really exciting about this study is that it gives us a much more complex understanding of the interaction of radiation with cancer cells that goes far beyond DNA damage and cell killing," Pajonk said. "The study may carry enormous potential to make radiation even better.”

The researchers say that women should not be alarmed by these findings and should continue their radiation treatments if their oncologist recommends it. Radiation is a very powerful tool, and if scientists can determine the mechanism driving the transformation of these cells, it will become an even more powerful therapy.

By: Jeffrey Workman
Health Reporter

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