Pancreatic Cancer Stem Cell Research
How do scientists tell the difference between pancreatic cancer stem cells and other cells in the tumor?There are many types of cells in a tumor, but cancer stem cells have specific properties that help scientists identify them. Only cancer stem cells can divide to make exact copies of themselves, and also make progenitor cells that go on to form all the cell types in the patient's tumor. Scientists look for specific signaling pathways and cell surface markers found in cancer stem cells. The ultimate test is to inject human cells into a mouse whose immune system has been suppressed. If the mouse develops a tumor that matches the patient's tumor, then this supports these cells as representing cancer stem cells.