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Cure key as docs create cancer.

SCIENTISTS claim genetic research which creates prostate cancer in laboratory conditions could hold the key to a cure.

The technique uses genetically altered human stem cells to artificially create the disease, which kills around 10,000 men in the UK every year.

Experts believe most cancers are driven by "rogue" stem cells and knowing what makes a stem cell turn cancerous can help researchers identify the root causes of the disease.

One of the hallmarks of stem cells - which grow to become any type of body tissue -is that they self-renew, which also makes their DNA vulnerable to collecting mistakes in the genetic code.

When this results in uncontrolled cell growth, it leads to cancer.

Scientists have duplicated this process in the laboratory using human prostate cells.

A US team led by Dr Owen Witte, from the University of California, broke apart prostate tissue to extract the stem cells.

The team then engineered specific genetic changes into the stem cells to create their own cancer cells.

Dr Witte believes the new technique could assist the "fine tuning" of new anti-cancer drugs.

He said starting with prostate stem cells made it a lot easier to target specific genetic defects.

Dr Witte presented his research at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Diego, California.

He added: "Here you can pre-programme the genetic buffet and then evaluate a compound in the face of those specific changes."

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 21, 2010
Words:246
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