Cancer Stem Cells

September 19th, 2008 | Sources: Economist


In his 1962 treatise The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn introduced the term “paradigm shift” to describe an abrupt breakthrough in science theory that jump-starts a whole new platform of inquiry, one that could not be envisioned using the older paradigm.

Einstein’s Theory of Relativity was a paradigm shift. So was the discovery in the 19th century that many diseases are caused by bacteria.

Now come whispers of a potential paradigm shift in cancer biology that may speed work towards curing the scourge in its many forms.

The theory is that cancers arise from stem cells.  It hadn’t even been appreciated until recently that all human tissue contained stem cells.

The new theory turns the prevailing model of tumorogenesis upside down. Cancer had been thought to result from mutations in fully differentiated cells such as epithelial cells of the bronchi or neurons in the brain. The new theory means it might possible to develop stem cell targeted treatments which might be more effective and less toxic than those developed under the current paradigm.

The cancer stem cell hypothesis has been the focus of many recent scientific studies. It is the cover story in this week’s Economist.



  1. Johnson | 13/05/11

    If you have plenty of fruit and vegetables, whole grains and beans, you should get the nutrients, including fiber, vitamins and minerals, yourbody has to lower your possibility of acquiring diseases such as cancer

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