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Cancer stem cells: The root of the problem

U-M Cancer Center director to give talk in Ann Arbor
-added 10/4/06

Ann Arbor, MI. -- Cancer stem cells are the small number of cancer cells that fuel the growth of new tumor cells. Finding drugs that target and kill these stem cells could dramatically improve cancer treatment.

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Max Wicha, M.D. will give talk on stem cells Wednesday, Oct. 11, at Kensington Court Hotel

Learn more about cancer stem cells and the promise they hold at a community talk featuring Max Wicha, M.D., Distinguished Professor of Oncology and director of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center. The talk will be held from 7-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 11, at Kensington Court Hotel, 610 Hilton Blvd., Ann Arbor.

"The goal of all our existing therapies has been to kill as many cells within the tumor as possible. The current model may lead to treatments limited in their effectiveness, because we have not been targeting the most important cells in the tumor - the cancer stem cells. If we hope to cure more cancers we will need to target and eliminate this critical type of cancer cell," Wicha says.

Wicha's lab was part of the team that first discovered stem cells in breast cancer, the first described in any human solid tumor. Research at U-M is currently focusing on identifying cancer stem cells in various types of cancer, including prostate, adrenal, pancreatic and head and neck, as well as ongoing work in breast cancer, multiple myeloma and other cancer types to develop and test treatments that target these cells. Investigators at the U-M Cancer Center hope to soon test a potential treatment designed to target breast cancer stem cells in women with advanced breast cancers.

"We can now define what we believe are the important cells - the cells that determine whether the cancer will come back or be cured - and target treatment directly to those cells," Wicha says.

The Oct. 11 talk is part of U-M's Cancer AnswerNight series, a free community health education program. In addition to the Oct. 11 talk on cancer stem cells, U-M will hold another Cancer AnswerNight at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 25, at the Genoa Woods Conference Center in Brighton. The topic will be the importance of clinical trials in cancer care.

For more information about Cancer AnswerNight, visit the Cancer AnswerNight web page or call 800-742-2300 category 7870.


Written by Nicole Fawcett

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