New tests will help advance cancer therapies

A group of Canadian scientists has developed new tests that can be used to distinguish between normal, healthy stem cells and cancer-causing stem cells. And they say the tests will be put to use to help researchers advance new treatments that can be used to target cancer stem cells and leave healthy stem cells undisturbed.

"Essentially, we can now use this to find the 'magic bullet,' a drug or set of drugs that kill cancer stem cells first and spare the normal healthy ones," Mick Bhatia, scientific director of the Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute at McMaster University, told the Canadian Press.

Several cancers--such as breast and prostate cancer--are driven by cancer stem cells, which are hard to kill with chemotherapy. Due to their resistance to standard therapies, the disease can often resurface with lethal consequences. Developers want to specifically target cancer cells so they can eradicate the disease entirely.

- read the story in the Canadian Press