Researchers studying breast cancer have found that only a small percentage of the tumour cells are capable of moving on and creating new cancer elsewhere in the body, a discovery they hope will lead to ways to target the most dangerous cells.
Only between 1 per cent and 15 per cent of cancer cells were capable of forming new malignant tumours in a study done at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Centre. The findings are reported in Tuesday’s online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“The first step was to identify the cells, the next step is to try to find out what makes them tick and then to targetthem with new therapies,” said Dr Michael F Clarke, who led the team.
Tests showed that these cells were able to develop into various types of cells present in a tumour, somewhat like a stem cell can develop into any normal tissue.