Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Cancer Sleeper Cell

I continue to read about cancer; my type of cancer and cancers in general. I have four primary sources: 1) The daily Wall Street Journal, 2) The Sunday New York Times, 3) friends/family who send me articles, and 4) Google alerts. For those not familiar with Google alerts, it is a Google feature which allows one to set up specific searches to run continuously, daily, or weekly for subjects in which one has an interest. This is where I find most of my cancer-related reading materials. For more information on Google Alerts, just google it.

Today's Sunday New York Times Magazine section had a fascinating research-oriented articles on cancer stem cells, "The Cancer Sleeper Cell." It's a long article, but provided added insight into my understanding of how important it would be to fighting relapses if one could identify, isolate, and destroy the cancer stem cell. What the article highlighted for me was that researchers believe that only one bad cell in a million bad cancer leukemia (a blood cancer) cells is a stem cell which can cause a relapse. The hypothesis being that if they can kill that one cell in a million, they can stop the cancer from relapsing. They were able to take this finding and apply it to various solid tumors. It also raised other important questions about what defines a cure and how to measure a treatment's success.

I was able to Google the article and the link is...

For those that are interested, enjoy this somewhat intellectually challenging reading. Take care everyone.


1 comment:

rjc said...

The “The Cancer Sleeper Cell” article IS a great one. The sleeper cell that Siddhartha Mukherjee is speaking of is the cancer stem cell … those 1 in a million cancer cells that are capable of dormancy, growth and infinite regeneration, and must be killed to truly stop a cancer. The article concludes "If stem cells can be found for certain forms of cancer, and if a drug can be found to kill these cells in humans, then the clinical impact of such a discovery would obviously be enormous. And its scientific impact would be just as profound.”

Fortunately we’re starting to find such therapies. Dr Patrick Lee’s paper in Nature has demonstrated that Reolysin (the reovirus variant being developed by Oncolytics Biotech) can kill breast cancer stem cells (in addition to killing the regular breast cancer cells), without harming any of the normal cells. His rather technical paper is at

Information on the ongoing and completed, two dozen or so, Phase I. II, and III Reolysin human cancer Trials can be found at Oncolytics Biotech’s website at

Ed. You might find Oncolytics' Phase II and Phase III H&N Trials of particular interest.