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Scientists target breast cancer tumors with neural stem cells.

Scientists in Singapore have discovered that neural stem cells possess the innate ability to target tumor cells outside the central nervous system.

This finding by scientists at Singapore's Institute of Bio engineering and Nano techno logy (IBN) was demonstrated successfully on breast cancer cells and suggests the possibility that engineered human stem cells hold the key to cancer survival.

Researchers led by IBN Group Leader Dr. Shu Wang found that neural stem cells (NSCs) derived from human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells could be used to treat breast cancer.

The effectiveness of using NSCs, which originate in the central nervous system, to treat brain tumors has been investigated in previous studies. This is the first that demonstrates that iPS cell-derived NSCs could also target tumors outside the central nervous system, to treat both primary and secondary tumors.

To test the efficiency of NSCs in targeting and treating breast cancer, the researchers injected NSCs loaded with a suicide gene (herpes simplex virus thymidine) into mice bearing breast tumors. They did this using baculoviral vectors or gene carriers engineered from an insect virus (baculovirus), which does not replicate in human cells, making the carriers less harmful for clinical use. A prodrug (ganciclovir), which would activate the suicide gene to kill the cancerous cells upon contact, was subsequently injected into the mice. A dual-colored whole body imaging technology was then used to track the distribution and migration of the iPS-NSCs.

The imaging results revealed that the iPS-NSCs homed in on the breast tumors in the mice, and also accumulated in various organs infiltrated by the cancer cells such as the lung, stomach and bone. The survival of the tumor-bearing mice was prolonged from 34 days to 39 days. This data supports and said how engineered iPS-NSCs are able to effectively seek out and inhibit tumor growth and proliferation.

Compared to collecting and expanding primary cells from individual patients, TBN's approach of using iPS cells to derive NSCs is less laborious and suitable for largescale manufacture of uniform batches of cellular products for repeated patient treatments. Importantly, this approach will help eliminate variability in the quality of the cellular products, thus facilitating reliable comparative analysis of clinical outcomes.

Additionally, these iPS cell-derived NSCs are derived from adult cells, which bypass the sensitive ethical issue surrounding the use of human embryos, and since iPS cells are developed from a patient's own cells, the likelihood of immune rejection would be reduced.

Citation: "Tumor Tropism of Intravenously Injected Human-Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Neural Stem Cells and Their Gene Therapy Application in a Metastatic Breast Cancer Model;" Jing Yang, Shu Wang et al.; Stem Cells, 2012; 30(5): 1021 DOI: 10.1002/stem.l051.


Contact: Shu Wang,

See also: "Glioma Gene Therapy Using Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Derived Neural Stem Cells;" Esther Xingwei Lee et al. Molecular Pharmaceutics, 2011; 8 (5): 1515 DOI: 10.1021/mp200127u.


Contact: See Shu Wang above.

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Title Annotation:Advanced Stem Cell Technology
Publication:Stem Cell Lab World
Date:May 21, 2012
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