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Research into stem cells


Stem cells and tumours
Renato Dulbecco Scientist
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E vedi questa è una cosa anche molto logica, perché il tumore ha tutte le caratteristiche delle cellule staminali: un tumore si sviluppa indefinitamente, ha queste... nelle cellule ci sono questi telomeri alla fine dei cromosomi e c'è perciò l'enzima che può ricostruire i telomeri nelle cellule differenziate normali questo enzima non c'è, nelle cellule del cancro c'è, nelle cellule staminali c'è in nuove altre cose. Insomma, perciò ci sono certe caratteristiche che mettono vicine le cellule dei tumori alle cellule staminali, per cui è probabile che il tumore insorge da cellule staminali dell'organo, che vengono alterate. È l'alterazione poi che non le permette a loro di differenziarsi normalmente, ma continuano a mantenere le loro caratteristiche, si moltiplicano senza le cellule, gli stimoli necessari che le cellule staminali normali dovrebbero avere, insomma, diventano indipendenti e variano fortemente. Insomma, evidentemente, c'è un'alterazione del DNA che, come sappiamo, è alla base sempre di tutti i cancri. Insomma, questo per il momento è puramente un'ipotesi, perciò ma i dati...

[Q] Sì, ecco hai detto è probabile, infatti, è probabile.

E sì, appunto, questo non è solo il nostro risultato... il nostro risultato suggerisce questo perché è in accordo con tutte queste altre osservazioni di cellule staminali nei vari campi, capisci? Perciò insomma, adesso dove siamo arrivati? Adesso vedremo poi come andare avanti, che non e' una cosa facile questa.

And you see this is a very logical thing, because the tumour has all the characteristics of stem cells: a tumour develops indefinitely, it has these... in the cells there are these telomeres at the end of chromosomes and there is thus the enzyme that can reconstruct the telomeres in normal differentiated cells this enzyme is not there, in the cancer cells it is there, in the stem cells it is in other new things. In short, there are certain characteristics that place tumour cells close to stem cells, so it is likely that the tumour arises from the stem cells of the organ, which are altered. It is the alteration that doesn't allow them to differentiate normally, but they continue to maintain their characteristics, they multiply without the cells, the necessary stimuli that the normal stem cells should have become independent and change a lot. In short, there is clearly a change in the DNA which, as we know, is still at the basis of all cancers. So this for the moment is purely an hypothesis, but the data...

[Q] Yes, you said it was probable, in fact, it is probable.

And yes, precisely, it's not only our results... our results suggest this because they agree with all the other observations of stem cells in various fields, you see? So, now where are we? Now we shall see how it progressed, that it wasn't easy.

The Italian biologist Renato Dulbecco (1914-2012) had early success isolating a mutant of the polio virus which was used to create a life-saving vaccine. Later in his career, he initiated the Human Genome Project and was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1975 for furthering our understanding of cancer caused by viruses.

Listeners: Paola De Paoli Marchetti

Paola De Paoli Marchetti is a science journalist who graduated with an honours degree in foreign languages and literature from the University Ca’Foscari, Venice. She has been a science journalist since the 1960s and has been on the staff of the newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore since 1970. She was elected president of UGIS (Italian Association of Science Journalists) in 1984. She has been a Member of the Board of EUSJA (European Union of Science Journalists’ Associations, Strasbourg), and was its president in 1987-1988 and 1998-2000. In May 2000 she was unanimously elected president emeritus. She was a member of the National Council of Italian Journalists (1992-1998). From 2002 to 2004 she was member of the working group for scientific communication of the National Committee for Biotechnology. She has also been a consultant at the Italian Ministry of Research and Technology and editor-in-chief of the publication MRST, policy of science and technology. She has co-authored many publications in the field of scientific information, including Le biotecnologie in Italia, Le piste della ricerca and Luna vent’anni dopo.

Tags: tumour, cancer, stem cells, telomeres

Duration: 1 minute, 47 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008