Cancer stem cells may be cause of brain tumors

Expert available for comment on "Cancer Stem Cells" symposium at American Society of Hemotology (ASH) meeting, led by Dr. Andrew Schafer, chairman of medicine, NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell, and president, ASH.

Stem cells -- popularly known as a source of biological rejuvenation -- may play harmful roles in the body, specifically in the growth and spread of cancer. First discovered in leukemia, stem cells have been located in solid tumors found in pancreatic, prostate, colon, breast and brain cancers. On Dec. 11, a symposium at the annual American Society of Hematology (ASH) meeting in Atlanta entitled "Cancer Stem Cells" addresses the topic.

Neurosurgeon-researchers from NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center are conducting ongoing research examining ways to combat brain cancer stem cells. To stave off cancer stem cell growth in the brain, Dr. John Boockvar is studying two drugs already available for cancer treatment. Preliminary results from these trials have shown that that some patients' cancers are wiped out, whereas others remain resistant. Dr. Boockvar believes that these patients' drug resistance might be due to a class of stem cells resistant to available treatments.

"Some patients' brain tumors respond to chemotherapy and some don't," says Dr. Boockvar. "We believe cancer stem cells may be the cause."


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