Scientists to Test Promising New Theory on Cancer

Medical centers will directly attack cancerous stem cells
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 21, 2007 4:00 AM CST
Researchers found a marker that can be used to identify cancer stem cells in breast tumors.   (University of Michigan)
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(Newser) – Cancer researchers are poised to begin what could be a revolutionary approach to treating cancer, the New York Times reports. Instead of trying to destroy tumors, scientists at three leading medical centers will go after cancerous stem cells that feed the tumors. The controversial approach—not all scientists buy the notion of such stem cells—could dramatically change the direction of research and raise hopes for new cures.

“If this is real, it could have almost immediate impact,” said a scientist at the National Cancer Institute, which is financing the research. Proponents liken the theory to ridding the lawn of dandelions: it does little good to simply cut them down without kiling the root system. Critics say the theory bears more relation to religion than science and caution against false hope.