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Stem Cells and Cancer Treatment

Written by Hiteshi Patel

Throughout the last few years, stem cells have been identified as being a potential cure to many types of cancers and diseases. However, it has now come to light that they may promote liver cancer instead of fighting it. During the process of disease modeling in cell culture with primary liver progenitor cells (LPCs), we find indicators of β‐catenin. Adult LPCs work to replenish hepatocytes and biliary epithelial cells in the organisms
such as rats and the liver of humans in cases such as chronic injury.

Tumor‐initiating stem‐like cells (TISCs) that emerge in chronic liver injury have the same expression of signaling pathways, like the β‐catenin. Through signals guiding hepatic specification in development, there has been a production of extremely similar mouse LPCs and human stem cells. Hence, there is reason to suspect that stem cells may be a cause of liver cancer. Moreover, concerns have risen that there are epigenetic differences between induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and human embryonic stem cells (ESCs). Yet, evidence further suggests that there is no difference between the two at producing hepatocytes in culture. Despite all of this, there is evidence of TISCs helping with cancer. Tumor eradication processes require TISC therapy; this works by using an epithelial membrane protein called CD133 to create markers on the skin’s surface. However, there are discrepancies with this method as well. The reduced rates of proliferation and phenotype of TISCs remain in question and must be identified
for this debate to come to a satisfactory end.

Citations for Stem Cells and Cancer Treatment:
Rountree, C. B., Mishra, L., & Willenbring, H. (2011). Stem cells in liver diseases and cancer: Recent advances on the path to new therapies. Hepatology, 55(1), 298-306.
Cyranoski, D. (2018, April 26). How human embryonic stem cells sparked a revolution. Retrieved from


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