Scientists find clues for identifying breast cancer risk — in first issue of Stem Cell Reports
Stem Cell Reports is the new open-access journal of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), published by Cell Press
By Mary Beth O'Leary Posted on 4 June 2013
New research provides critical insights into how normal breast precursor cells may be genetically vulnerable to develop into cancer. The research is published today in the inaugural issue of Stem Cell Reports, an open-access journal of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), published by Elsevier's Cell Press.
Scientists discovered that a particular class of normal breast precursor cells have extremely short chromosome ends (known as telomeres). As a result, these cells would be expected to be prone to acquiring mutations that lead to cancer if they managed to stay alive. These findings suggest new indicators for identifying women at higher risk for breast cancer and provide insights into potential new strategies to detect, treat and prevent the disease.
Dr. David Gilley's laboratory at the Indiana University School of Medicine and Dr. Connie Eaves' laboratory at the BC Cancer Agency's Terry Fox Laboratory in Vancouver, Canada, collaborated to determine how telomeres are regulated in different types of normal breast cells. Their studies revealed that a subset of normal breast precursor cells, called luminal progenitors, have dangerously short telomeres and display a correspondingly high level DNA damage response localized at their chromosome ends. This shows how a normal process of tissue development produces a cell type that is predisposed to acquire cancer-causing mutations.
“This is the first report of a particular normal human precursor cell type that shows such telomere malfunction,” said Dr. Eaves. “The luminal progenitors we have found to possess this feature are thus now being brought into the spotlight as a likely stage where breast cancer may take off."
Recent studies have implicated luminal progenitor cells in the development of breast cancers with a mutated BRCA1 gene.
The research highlights the importance of investigating different cell types in normal human tissues to understand the cellular origin of cancer and the factors that may contribute to its development. “An immediate use of our study will be to look into other human epithelial tissues to see if this finding is unique to the breast or a more general phenomenon,” said Dr. Gilley.
This advance in breast cancer research reflects the mission of Stem Cell Reports: to provide an open-access forum that communicates basic discoveries in stem cell research as well as translational and clinical studies.
In the words of Editor-in-Chief Christine Mummery: "Stem Cell Reports publishes high-quality, peer-reviewed research presenting conceptual or practical advances across the breadth of stem cell research and its applications to medicine."
“Partnering with the ISSCR represents ... an exciting opportunity to serve the scientific community in providing high-quality stem cell research in an open-access format," said Dr. Emilie Marcus, CEO of Cell Press and Editor-in-Chief of Cell, in the press release.
Stem Cell Reports is the second fully open-access journal published by Cell Press. The other is Cell Reports.
Read the breast cancer study
Cell Press and International Society for Stem Cell Research to publish open access journal, with Nobel laureate Shinya Yamanaka, MD[divider]
Reporting for Elsevier Connect
Mary Beth O’Leary is Press Officer and Associate Media Relations Manager for Cell Press (@CellPressNews), based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She began her career at Cell Press as an Senior Editorial Assistant for the journal Cell before transitioning into a role as Marketing/Publicity Coordinator. In December, she moved into her position as Press Officer for Cell Press’s 29 journals. A graduate of the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, she studied literature and art history.