Tumor stem cells
Tumor stem cells

Detecting and specifically destroying tumor stem cells can revolutionize the treatment of cancer

New direction of radiotherapy conceivable onto tumor stem cells

In the past, the consensus of learned opinion on cancer and the development of tumors was that all cells in the malignant tissue are more or less the same. However scientists have now realized that there are special tumor stem cells within the tissue that are crucial for the growth, development and spread of the tumor. It has been impressively demonstrated, for example, that mice who were implanted with a tumor containing stem cells got sick, whereas mice with tumors that did not have tumor stem cells remained healthy despite having cancer.

Tumor stem cells have a key function

Only individual tumor stem cells therefore contribute to the cancer’s growth. If these cells can be tracked down and killed, say the scientists, the treatment of cancer can reach a new level. In the laboratory, it is already possible to effectively mark harmful cells with certain proteins. Finding them in the patient’s body, however, is much more difficult. However the development of biomarkers means that it is possible to do precisely this. And the more accurately the tumor stem cells can be recognized and tagged, the more accurately they can be attacked. Radiotherapy is therefore the weapon of choice, since high-dose radiation is able to reliably kill the stem cells of many kinds of tumor. Modern linear accelerators and coordinated treatment couches, such as the Radiotherapy Patient System RPS, allow extremely precise positioning of the patient and delivery of radiation to the tumor. This means that the radiation can be concentrated on areas of the tissue that have been found to have high densities of tumor stem cells.

Biomarkers are the key – researchers are working on reliable treatments

Stem cells are a major challenge for the scientific community. They can also change during the tumor’s lifespan and growth. Treatment can also influence the tumor stem cells, which makes them hard to find. In laboratory situations, tumors have even been observed “converting” conventional cancer cells and turning them into tumor stem cells. However scientists are confident that their research is heading in the right direction and that, with the help of biomarkers and precise technologies for delivering radiotherapy, even more powerful treatments for cancer will be possible in the future. Are you interested in the Radiotherapy Patient System RPS? If so, send an e-mail to info@gkteso.com.