The Ecology of Tumors

Stem cells for brain cancer

Neural stem cell biology took off in 1992 when Brent Reynolds and Samuel Weiss, working at the University of Calgary, discovered that culturing mammalian brain cells in serum-free conditions (in EGF and bFGF), yielded clonally derived colonies of undifferentiated neural cells (neurospheres). This culture system demonstrated that cells within these colonies showed cardinal properties of stem cells: self-renewal and multilineage differentiation.1

That led to the question: If this process worked for isolating stem cell populations from normal brain, could it be used to isolate stem cells from brain tumors? Several groups did exactly this to show that a minority of the cells in a brain tumor could...

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