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Skin turned into `cancer-killer`


Washington : Transforming skin cells into cancer-hunting stem cells, a recent research has provided the doctors with a means to combat the disease.

In a first for medical science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill pharmacy researchers turn skin cells into cancer-hunting stem cells that destroy brain tumors known as glioblastoma, a discovery that can offer, for the first time in more than 30 years, a new and more effective treatment for the disease.

The technique builds upon the newest version of the Nobel Prize-winning technology from 2007, which allowed researchers to turn skin cells into embryonic-like stem cells. Researchers hailed the possibilities for use in regenerative medicine and drug screening. Now, researchers have found a new use: killing brain cancer.

Study leader Shawn Hingtgen said that patients desperately need a better standard of care.

In their work, Hingtgen and his team reprogram skin cells known as fibroblasts, which produce collagen and connective tissue, to become induced neural stem cells. Working with mice, Hingtgen’s team showed that these neural stem cells have an innate ability to move throughout the brain and home in on and kill any remaining cancer cells. The team also showed that these stem cells could be engineered to produce a tumor-killing protein, adding another blow to the cancer.

Depending on the type of tumor, the Hingtgen’s team increased survival time of the mice 160 to 220 percent. Next steps will focus on human stem cells and testing more effective anti-cancer drugs that can be loaded into the tumor-seeking neural stem cells.

The study is reported in Nature Communications. (ANI)

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