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Cuts & Tumors

April 19, 2011

Stem cells flock to the site of wounds, sometimes leading to tumors in mice.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Cancer cuts…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Tumors sometimes form around wounds, and researchers have been trying to figure out why. UC San Franscisco cell biologist Sunny Wong and his team bred mice with a genetic mutation for skin cancer. But for the most part, they didn’t develop tumors. However, after taking a biopsy from the animals and thereby creating a small wound, Wong’s team observed stem cells flocking to the cuts.

SUNNY WONG (University of California, San Francisco):

Once they were recruited to the site of injury, they start forming tumors there. Without wounding, these cells seem to be protected against tumors, whereas with wounding it instigates some sort of programming in the cells that allows them to form full blown tumors.

HIRSHON:

Wong says the form of skin cancer his team studied is not usually lethal in humans, but the findings could help explain how wounds initiate malignant tumors in areas like the lungs and liver. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.