Researchers Find Out the Source of Invasive Bladder Cancer

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Apr 22, 2014

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Bladder CancerAccording to researchers, a single type of cell present in the lining of the bladder causes invasive bladder cancer in most cases.

Professor of biochemistry and of developmental biology, Philip Beachy, PhD, said they found that at the intermediate stage of cancer development a single cancer stem cell and its off spring can swiftly replace the entire bladder lining.

The researchers conducted 2 experiments and in the first experiment they studied the reaction on mice when they were exposed to BBN when the sonic-hedgehog-expressing cells were marked with a distinguished fluorescent colour. In the second experiment, genetic techniques were used to selectively kill the same cells in the animals prior to exposure.

The results of the first experiment surprized the researchers as after only a few months of exposure to BBN, almost the complete bladder lining was labeled with the fluorescent green marker which meant that the cells had risen from the sonic-hegehog-expressing basal stem cells. Once the labeled cells were transplanted into other mice they gave rise to bladder cancers, but the cells not expressing sonic hedgehog did not.

The results of the second experiment showed that no tumours were seen in the mice in which the stem cells were selectively killed. However, in this experiment, the architecture of the bladder was severely compromised in the absence of stem cells which regenerated cells lost during the normal course of bladder function.

The next experiment the researchers conducted was to find out whether the bladder cancers arise as the result of genetic changes to one or more of these bladder stem cells. In this experiment, a genetically engineered mouse was used which shined in fluorescent green and could be triggered to shine in random fluorescent colours, i.e, red, blue, or yellow. The mouse was called the ‘rainbow mouse’ which allowed the researchers to accurately know the origin of groups of cells. For example, if all the cells in a tumour were red in colour they were more likely to have been originated from a single cell.

The results of further studies were also surprising. Despite the fact that only sonic-hedgehog expressing cells are able to give rise to the earlier stages of bladder cancer, none of the cells in the most advanced, invasive carcinomas in the BBN-treated animals expressed sonic hedgehog.

The study was published in journal Nature Cell Biology.

Image courtesy: Getty Images

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