In a recent study, it has been revealed that cancer cells are part of a “decentralized society” instead of a hierarchical one, expected to be one of the major reasons to make cancer cells hard to destroy.
A team of researchers from Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology examined three breast cancer cell lines, sorting the cells based on their states: basal, liminal and stem-like. For the next six days, the team grew pure populations of the different cell types but gradually it merges to the same which made the team think that the cells actually changed types.
“Even when you sort relatively pure populations, you quickly get back the same balance”, said the study’s senior author, Eric Lander, a Biology Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
If this study is to be believed, then it can be said that targeting cancer stem cells alone to treat the disease is insufficient, as every single cell reacts in its unique manner. “The notion is that the only way stem cells occur is by self-renewal. Our work says that analogy may be wrong”, said Broad director and senior author Eric Lander.