Fighting cancer from the inside out

Cancer recurrence is one of the fears that almost every patient undergoing chemotherapy develops. Recent findings suggest that only a small fraction of the tumor cells, called Cancer Stem Cells (CSC) are able to drive the growth of the tumor. CSC also show an increased drug resistance, and could remain unaffected after chemotherapy, eventually resulting in the formation of a new tumor.

The Westminster iGEM 2012 team aims to combat cancer recurrence by using one key feature of CSCs – increased Aldehyde Dehydrogenase (ALDH) activity. We have used the promoters of 4 different ALDH isoforms present in aggressive forms of cancer to design 3 constucts that will allow us to identify, isolate and eliminate CSC, offering a novel tool for the study of these cells and a potential new anti-cancer therapy for the future.

iGEM 2013