Ann Conkle
Apr 18, 2012

New findings in breast cancer contradict current views on cancer stem cells

Findings in breast cancer contradict the prevailing belief that only basal-like cells with stem cell qualities form invasive tumors. Most breast cancers originate in the milk ducts and lobules, which consist of luminal cells surrounded by basal cells, and the two most frequent subtypes of breast cancer cells are named luminal-like and basal-like after their resemblance to these two major cell lineages. It has been widely believed that basal-like cells, with the undifferentiated qualities of stem cells, were the source of invasive tumors. New research led by Ole William Petersen at the University of Copenhagen and Mina Bissell of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and has shown that luminal-like cells with no detectable stem cell qualities can generate larger tumors than their basal-like counterparts. This may hold important implications for the diagnosis and the treatment of breast cancer as well as future personalized cancer medicine.