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The Problem with CD24


A new study published in Cell Stem Cell shows that liver cancers are protected from chemotherapy by a type of "super cancer stem cells" that make the disease resistant to treatment, reports Reuters' Tan Ee Lyn. The stem cells can also spread to other body parts, and can come back even after surgical removal, Lyn says. The stem cells carry the CD24 surface protein, high levels of which lower a patient's chance of survival. CD24 activates the STAT3 protein in cells, which has been shown to form tumors and make them drug resistant. In their experiment, the researchers implanted liver cancers rich in CD24 into mice and found that the cancers became resistant to chemotherapy. They then injected two colonies of liver cancer cells — one with CD24 and one without — into separate parts of the same mouse liver, and found that the part of the liver with the CD24 cells grew cancer that spread to the lungs, and the part of the liver without the CD24 did not, Lyn says. "They went back to human liver cancer patients and found that those with high concentrations of CD24 had a 67 percent chance of cancer recurrence in the first year after surgery, compared to 21 percent recurrence in those with low CD24 count," Lyn adds.

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