Targeting bladder cancer's Achilles heel: stem cells

IMAGE: Two proteins appear to work individually and together to feed a small pool of stem cells that help bladder cancer resist chemotherapy view more 

Credit: Cancer Research

Two different proteins work separately as well as synergistically to feed a small pool of stem cells that help bladder cancer resist chemotherapy, research led by a Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center scientist suggests. The finding, published online in Cancer Research, could lead to new targets to fight this deadly disease and potentially other cancers as well.

Urothelial carcinoma of the bladder (UCB) is the most common cancer of the urinary tract. Just in the U.S., tens of thousands of patients are diagnosed with this disease every year, which kills more than 100,000 people worldwide annually.

One reason that bladder cancer is so deadly is the propensity for these tumors to develop resistance to the drugs typically used as frontline therapies, explains study leader Mohammad Hoque, D.D.S, Ph.D., an associate professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery, urology, oncology and member of the Johns Hopkins Greenberg Bladder Cancer Institute. Recent research suggests that this resistance is caused by a small pool of cancer stem cells (CSCs) within these tumors that isn’t killed


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