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Researchers Discovered Way to Use Skin Cells for Eliminating Cancer

Update Date: Feb 27, 2016 05:57 PM EST

The survival rate of patients after the treatment of glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer, is only 30%. The patients who undergo the treatment do not survive more than two years as even if the surgeon removes the tumor, it is absolutely impossible to get rid of the tendrils that spread into the brain and make the tumor reappear.

However, the researchers at the University of North Carolina have established a method that helps in turning skin cells into stem cells that can identify the cancer cells. This method, when applied on mice, effectively killed the remaining tumor cells in the brain, University Herald reported

Glioblastomas grow quickly and form astrocytes, the cells that makeup brain's supportive tissue. Astrocytes multiply rapidly and are supported by a complex network of blood vessels, which makes the otherwise rare cancer hard to treat, according to the American Brain Tumor Association.

"We wanted to find out if these induced neural stem cells would home in on cancer cells and whether they could be used to deliver a therapeutic agent," Dr. Shawn Hingtgen, an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina, said in a press release. "This is the first time this direct reprogramming technology has been used to treat cancer."

For the purpose of study published in the journal Nature Communications, fibroblasts, also known as skin cells, were reprogrammed by the researchers to become neural stem cells so that they can produce a protein that kills tumor. These cells that produce collagen and connective tissue in the skin, hunt down and kill the cancer cells.

As the cells are inserted into the mice, they are kept in their place with the help of a matrix so that they can stay long enough to find and kill the cancerous cells in that area. The researchers reported a survival rate of mice between 160% and 220%, depending upon the location of the tumor, as reported by UPI

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