University of Toronto engineering researchers have identified a molecular trigger that couldspeed the growth of cancer stem cells.

The researchers found that when cancer-associated fibroblasts are damaged by chemotherapy they can produce new stem cells. The findings have implications for treatment of this type of cancer which accounts for approximately 30 per cent of all patients diagnosed in the U. S. each year.

At present our lifesaving equipment cannot detect cancer cells and we therefore need to know which brain metastases are ectopic (that is outside the body) said lead-corresponding author Vadim Tseilikman a Ph. D. candidate in the Department of Chemistry at U of T Scarborough. Knowing which metastases are present can allow us to target their malfunctioning function and therefore reduce the frequency of and risk of further progression or recurrence of tumor growth.

Although tissue-specific failures have been associated with the immune system future treatments should tackle come from the inside. Given that fibroblast stem cells are important for maintaining the hosts ability to regenerate neurosurgery is particularly useful in preventing chronic disease and preventing metastasis of cancer stem cells.

To further test their hypothesis U of T neuroscientists developed a new surgical technique to directly manipulate the effector protein Smad7 to deliver toxins to specific brain metastases. The study is the culmination of four years of relentless research and we strongly congratulate Prof. Tseilikman on his discoveries which we hope will improve human life for a long time said David J. Cannell who is the associate neuroscientist at St. Michaels Hospital in Toronto.

To delay or diminish the effect of Smad7 in cancer stem cells the researchers genetically modified cuprosomes which are a type of synthetic cell membrane. Most commonly used in animal models of neurodegenerative disease cuprosomes are a promising advancement in cell model development because they allow researchers to control cellular stress within the laboratory. Weve achieved about 50 per cent cell growth inhibitory efficacy limits with the cuprosome-modulator Smad7 blockade system said senior-corresponding author Eva Gendelman Ph. D.

We also validated our protocol in clinical patient studies with lead-in-experimental non-human primate brain metastasis models that are scattered throughout the brain Gendelman continued. These data demonstrate that the development of truly cell-centric treatment approaches is possible.