An index measures similarity between cancer cells and pluripotent stem cells

The theory that cancer progression involves the acquisition by tumor cells of features similar to those of stem cells has gained strength in the scientific community.

According to this theory, tumor cells tend to “forget” the tissue from which they originated as the disease progresses, acquiring an undifferentiated phenotype associated with heightened aggressiveness and treatment resistance.

In a study whose findings were published in the journal Cell on Thursday, May 5, researchers at the University of São Paulo’s Ribeirão Preto Medical School (FMRP-USP) in Brazil and collaborators in several other countries describe a method that objectively measures the degree of similarity between tumor samples and pluripotent stem cells (cells that can differentiate into nearly any type of tissue in the body).

The study focuses on “stemness”, defined as the potential for self-renewal and differentiation from the cell of origin, and on “stemness indices” developed during postdoctoral research conducted by Tathiane Malta as part of a project ( supported by FAPESP and with Houtan Noushmehr, a professor in FMRP-USP’s Genetics Department, as principal investigator.

“Our expectation is that in future stemness indices can be used in clinical practice as a prognostic aid, to help foresee the possibility of relapse, and


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