Method for Identifying New Breast Cancer Stem Cells and Targeted Therapies

Development of new breast cancer therapies and diagnostic assays Researching cancer progression and remission

Specifically isolates human mammary stem and progenitor cell candidates from primary mammary tissue

May identify new mammary stem cell markers

Differentiates major cell types of the mammary gland from each other

Advances stem cell research without the need for embryonic stem cells

Mina Bissell of Berkeley Lab and Ole Petersen of the Panum Institute, University of Copenhagen, are the first to develop a method for distinguishing mammary stem cells from primary human mammary tissue. Because normal human breast stem cells are probable targets for breast tumors, the new method could lead to the development of more effective breast cancer therapies and diagnostic assays, and advance current research on breast cancer progression and remission.

The inventors first used fluorescent-activated cell sorting (FACS) to break down human mammary tissue into its constituent cells, then followed with functional testing for stem cell activity in 3D organotypic culture assays. To distinguish the stem cells from their mature progeny in human breast reduction mammoplasty specimens, all cell types were compared to each other by FACS, using markers that have been ascribed to stem or mature cell types of other epithelial tissues, or to embryonic stem cells. The new method revealed that the expression of antibodies such as CD49f, EpCAM, and SSEA-4 coincides with cellular activities associated with mammary stem cell candidates, such as the capacity for clonal growth, self-renewal, differentiation into the major cell types of the mammary gland, and profound morphological capacity.

The method may also be combined with microdissection to locate new stem cell candidates within specific areas of the mammary gland, such as the ductal region, and to develop new markers of human mammary stem cells.

Inventor(s): Mina Bissell, Ole Petersen

Type of Offer: Licensing

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