Two Spanish researchers have conducted a study at the University of Columbia (United States) that has allowed them to discover how to fight cancer stem cells, considered the main responsible for the development of resistance to chemotherapy treatments.

The scientists -Joseph Domingo Doménech and Carlos Cordón-Cardó- have based their research on prostate cancer and have found that the stem cells of this type of tumor took part in both the progression of the disease and in the resistance to chemotherapy. . In the research, whose conclusions have been published in Cancer Cell, they observed that while differentiated cells die, tumor stem cells resist and retain the ability to divide when they are exposed to chemotherapy.

Tumor stem cells resist and retain the ability to divide when they are exposed to chemotherapy treatment

These malignant embryonic cells do not respond to treatment with the usual drugs because they have their own protection mechanisms. Therefore, the authors of the study developed a new therapeutic strategy to treat patients with prostate cancer, which consisted of the combination of standard chemotherapy with two selective inhibitors of the embryonic signaling pathways Notch and Hedgehog, so that they became vulnerable to treatment, and thus eliminate them.

According to the researchers, the tumor stem cells identified in prostate cancer could also be found in other types of cancer tumors such as breast, lung, bladder or colon, so that their finding can facilitate knowledge about the formation of tumors. , the resistance they offer to available treatments and the development of metastases that do not respond to therapy. If the new trials are successful, it could also develop a new drug that combines selective inhibitors with chemotherapy to reverse the resistance of tumor cells to standard treatment.

Source of cancer stem cells' resistance to radiation discovered at Stanford (November 2019).