A2: Microbes in the News – Reprogrammed skin cells shrink brain tumors in mice

Reprogrammed skin cells shrink brain tumors in mice

Source: Science Mag


Date Published: 2/1/17

Summary: Researchers at the University of North Carolina have transformed adult skin cells into standard stem cells and then turned those into neural stem cells. They then engineered the cells to home in on tumor cells in the brain and deliver common cancer treatments to glioblastomas in mice. They found that mouse tumors injected directly with the reprogrammed stem cells shrank 2% to 5% in 24 to 28 days.

Connection: This study is another option being explored to target cancer cells. But this study is looking at harnessing stem cell’s ability to home toward tumor cells and instead of thinking the tumor is a wound that needs to be healed, it can be changed and manipulated to deliver cancer killing drugs. This shows how you can use the targeting mechanism the cancer cells use to attract the stem cells as an advantage but changing the genetic make up of the stem cells but not what the shell.

Critical Analysis: I found it interesting that the stem cells are able to find and move to the cancer cells. I’m also surprised that it seems to be working in killing cancer cells and reducing tumors. I think this article did a good job in communicating science to the public because they explained what glioblastoma is in case people didn’t know. They also did a great job of briefly explaining the experiment without losing the attention of the audience by using the appropriate level of vocabulary.

Question: How will the researchers improve this method so that the tumor-targeting cells can migrate the distance it needs to in a human brain?