Researchers working with breast cancer stem cells at the Stanford University School of Medicine have found 186 genes that together can predict the risk of recurrence in breast cancer patients.
Additionally, the same genes predict the recurrence of prostate cancer, lung cancer and medulloblastoma, the most common form of childhood brain cancer.
“These data suggest that there are some fundamental properties of the malignancy that are shared between many types of tumors,” said Michael Clarke, MD, the Karel H. and Avice N. Beekhuis Professor in Cancer Biology. He is the lead author of the study, which published in the Jan. 18 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Stanford scientists say the findings are a significant step toward using insights from cancer stem cell research to develop better tools for diagnosing and treating the disease.
“This paper demonstrates, for the first time, the clinical value of isolating pure human cancer stem cells,” said Irving Weissman, MD, director of the Stanford Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Medicine, who was not involved in the study.
“Mike Clarke and his colleagues have now shown that the human breast cancer stem cell reveals information not evident when the whole tumor is analyzed. We plan to incorporate these findings in our approaches to the care of cancer patients, starting here at Stanford.”
This work was supported by grants from the National Cancer Institute, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the Virginia and D.K. Ludwig Foundation.