Killing Cancer Stem Cells
My second cancer post in a row. Rafe must have made my news antennae more sensitive to the issue.
The Broad Institute announced that they have identified a compound that kills breast cancer stem cells: salinomycin. What’s particularly cool is the way they went about it. Evidently, cancer stem cells tend to lose their “stemness” in the lab, making it hard to run tests on them. The Broad team overcame this challenge by figuring out how to convert regular cancer cells to stem-like cells to get a stable population.
With this foundation in place, they constructed a large-scale screening operation and searched for activity in thousands of compounds. Once they identified active compounds, they tested them on mice. Lo and behold, salinomycin dramatically reduced (100 to 1) the cancer stem cell population in mice with breast cancer.
Even better, they can apply this same technique to any cancer that produces solid tumors maintained by stem cells.