Pharmacy Times: Hierarchy of breast cancer cells

UC research pinpoints hierarchy of breast cancer cells as potential cause for treatment resistance

It may take cells in different stages of development to cause breast cancer to progress and spread, according to recent University of Cincinnati research published in the journal eLife.

The findings demonstrated the importance of accounting for specific cell states present in a tumor in order to determine the appropriate combination of drugs necessary to eliminate all the cell states present and halt treatment resistance. The study was led by author Syn Yeo, PhD, research instructor in the department of cancer biology.

Portrait of Syn Yeo

Syn Yeo, PhD, research instructor in the department of cancer biology at the UC College of Medicine. Photo by UC Creative + Brand.

He and other researchers noted that the variation between cell states may cause difficulties during treatment if differences in cell states are not accounted for.

"This diversity poses a problem to treating patients because particular subsets of tumor cells may be drug resistant and eventually lead to disease recurrence," says Yeo. "One of the factors contributing to this diversity is the fact that tumor cells can exist in different cellular states, ranging from more stem-like cells that can become other cell types to more differentiated cells that have been coded to serve a purpose, or do a certain 'job' within the system.”

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Featured photo of breast cancer cells courtesy of the National Cancer Institute. 

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