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Similarities found in cancer initiation in kidney, liver, stomach, pancreas

Source: Xinhua| 2018-02-22 06:57:02|Editor: pengying

CHICAGO, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- Recent research at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis demonstrated that mature cells in the stomach sometimes revert back to behaving like rapidly dividing stem cells, a process named paligenosis.

Now, the researchers have found that this process may be universal, no matter the organ, when tissue responds to certain types of injury, mature cells seem to get younger and begin dividing rapidly, creating scenarios that can lead to cancer, according to the research released by the university on Wednesday.

Studying cells from the stomach and pancreas in humans and mice, as well as mouse kidney and liver cells, and cells from more than 800 tumor and precancerous lesions in people, the researchers found when tissue is injured by infections or trauma, mature cells can revert back to a stem-cell state in which they divide repeatedly.

And along the way, those cells all activate the same genes to break down the mature cells and help them begin to divide again.

"First, we saw a massive increase in the activity of genes associated with cell degradation," said first author Spencer G. Willet, a research associate at the university. "Then, the cell' s growth pathway senses that degradation and releases nutrients that then activate cell growth pathways and allow the mature cells we studied to proliferate."

Paligenosis appears similar to apoptosis, the programmed death of cells as a normal part of an organism' s growth and development, in that it seems to happen the same way in every cell, regardless of its location in the body.

The discovery that cells in different organs go through the same process to become proliferative could lead to new potential targets for cancer treatment because the factors that initiate tumors could be the same in multiple organs.

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