Tracing the origins of cancer stem cells and their parallel in the developmental stem cell niche.
Even 10 years after apparently successful treatment for breast cancer there is a significant annual risk of recurrence. It has been suggested that this is due to the presence of a small population of cancer stem cells that are difficult to detect but may possess the potential to recapitulate the whole tumour if re-activated. It is hoped that future therapies to target these cells may reduce the risk of disease relapse.
The science of identifying and studying these cells is novel and there is much debate over the clinical validity of the serial xenograft assay that is most often used to identify cancer stem cells from human tumour samples. One aspect that has not previously been looked at in depth is the parallel between cancer stem cells and the tissue stem cells that we more normally associate with development. Are cancer stem cells actually transformed tissue stem cells and if so does this mean that in healthy people the cells in this niche are more susceptible to becoming tumours if mutated?
Edinburgh University is at the forefront of Wilms' tumour research and the recent identification of a putative stem cell in this cancer will allow us to use the techniques and models that already exist to study the origins of this cancer stem cell in normal tissue.
1st PhD: Dr Peter Hohenstein, Developmental Biology, Roslin Institute
2nd PhD: Prof. Stuart Forbes, Scottish Centre for Regenerative Medicine
Clinical: Prof J. Michael Dixon OBE, Edinburgh Breast Unit
Wellcome Trust funded ECAT Clinical Lecturer
- MRCS (Ed) (2008) Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
- MB ChB (Hons) (2006) University of Edinburgh
- BSc (1st Hons) Experimental pathology (2003) University of Edinburgh