Better understanding breast cancer stem cells

A joint project between the Griffith University and the UQ Centre for clinical Research (UQCCR) has characterised an in vitro model that allows further studies on the breast cancer biology.

These studies include the confirmation that primary tissue obtained from patients with breast cancer behaves similarly to those derived from long-term cultured cell lines.

Griffith University’s Associate Professor Alejandro Lopez said the team was working towards making breast cancer stem cells the target of specific cancer therapies, to improve current treatment outcomes.

“We have recently described methods to investigate breast cancer stem cells based on research with established cell lines. We confirm in this publication that the properties found previously, also apply for primary tissues derived from breast cancer,” Associate Professor Alejandro Lopez said.

“It is not a given that findings obtained from established cell lines could translate into fresh human tissue. Our results here show that cells from both behave similarly.

“We describe a series of methods that progress our understanding of how breast cancer stem cells behave”. The findings advance the definition of tools with which we could more appropriately test potential therapies for advanced cancer.”

The work is the product of a successful joint-venture between GU’s PhD student Brian Morrison and A/Prof. Alejandro Lopez and UQCCR’s Dr. Chanel Smart, Dr Jodi Saunus and Professor Sunil Lakhani.

The research paper, “In Vitro Analysis of Breast Cancer Cell Line Tumourspheres and Primary Human Breast EpitheliaMammospheres Demonstrates Inter- and IntrasphereHeterogeneity” has been publishedin the open-access online journal PLOS ONE.