The Cross-Border Biotech Blog

Biotechnology, Health and Business in Canada, the United States and Worldwide

Friday Science Review: February 15, 2013

John HolyoakeThe Dick lab at the Campbell Family Cancer Research Institute has a prestigious history of unraveling the complexities of cancer and their recent publication in Science adds yet more detail.

Analysis of tumours has revealed that there is immense heterogeneity between patients and also between cancer cells within the same tumour. This heterogeneity is evident at the genetic level, but also in the morphology and behaviours of individual clonal cell lines.

In the research reported in Science, the Dick lab tracked the in vivo propagation of xenotransplanted patient-derived colorectal cancer cells at the resolution of individual clones and demonstrated that cancer cells with the same genetic lineage demonstrate significantly different functional states and notably included clonal cells that were dormant compared to their peers. These populations of dormant cells may be the source of disease recurrence after treatment and therefore determining the mechanism through which the cells enter and sustain their dormant state may open up a new therapeutic strategy to fully eradicate the disease and prevent recurrence.

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