Similar to game of life, stem cells seem to follow a random rules (replace lost neighbors) for replacing lost stem cells. Scientists until now believed that only certain stem cells in the gut are allowed to replace the daughter stem cells based on a strict hierarchy.
According to reasearch published in the journal of science by UK researchers gut stem cells replace each other in a “one in, one out” system.
The researchers, from Cancer Research UK, say the behavior of these gut cells could help in finding novel treatments for bowel cancer.
Lead researcher, Dr Doug Winton, who works at Cancer Research UK’s Cambridge Research Institute, said:
We’ve shown for the first time how the population of stem cells is maintained in the gut and essentially it is a random process with no predetermined fate for the stem cells. This research is a great example of collaborative research – we’ve brought together biologists and physicists to answer questions about how stem cells divide – and it’s through these type of collaborations we hope to answer more questions about stem cells and their links to cancer.
To maintain the lining of the gut, healthy stem cells typically multiply. However, when they develop a fault they become cancer cells and multiply chaotically, resulting in the formation of a tumor.
Director of cancer information at Cancer Research UK, Dr Lesley Walker, said:
This basic biology research could one day lead to real benefits for patients. Cancer stem cells are more resistant to chemotherapy and radiotherapy than the cells that make up the bulk of a tumour, so understanding more about how they behave could lead to better treatments for bowel cancer.