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Contact: Penny Fannin
fannin@wehi.edu.au
61-417-125-700
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute

Long-Lived Breast Stem Cells Could Retain Cancer Legacy

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Caption: Researchers from Melbourne's Walter and Eliza Hall Institute have discovered that breast stem cells and their "daughters" have a much longer lifespan than previously thought, and are active in puberty and throughout life.

The longevity of breast stem cells and their daughters means that they could harbor genetic defects or damage that progress to cancer decades later, potentially shifting back the timeline of breast cancer development. The finding is also integral to identifying the "cells of origin" of breast cancer and the ongoing quest to develop new treatments and diagnostics for breast cancer.

Breast stem cells were isolated in 2006 by professors Jane Visvader and Geoff Lindeman and their colleagues at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute.

Now, in a project led by Dr. Anne Rios and Dr. Nai Yang Fu that tracked normal breast stem cells and their development the team has discovered that breast stem cells actively maintain breast tissue for most of the life of the individual and contribute to all major stages of breast development. The research was published in the journal Nature.

Credit: Walter and Eliza Hall Institute

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