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Source: Institute of Physics
Date: 2005-06-19
Breakthrough Isolating Embryo-quality Stem Cells From Blood

A major breakthrough in stem cell research - a new tool that could allow scientists to harvest stem cells ethically - was announced recently at the Institute of Physics' conference Physics 2005 in Warwick (Tuesday 12th April).

Professor Josef Käs and Dr Jochen Guck from the University of Leipzig have developed a procedure that can extract and isolate embryo-quality stem cells from adult blood for the first time. This new technique could unlock the stem cell revolution and stimulate a boom in medical research using stem cells.

...Scientists have known for some time that stem cells exist in adult human blood and certain other tissues. However the only reliable way to separate them involved marking the cells with a chemical dye, rendering them useless for medical purposes. Professor Käs' technique for the first time uses a physical characteristic of each cell - its stretchiness or elasticity - instead of its biological make-up, to decide whether or not it's a stem cell. Stem cells don't need a rigid "cytoskeleton" to hold them in shape, which makes them stretchier than normal cells.

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Because of this new development in cell elasticity, by Professor Josef Käs and Dr Jochen Guck, they also were recently able to develop the "world's most sensitive cancer test."
Source: Institute of Physics
Date: 2005-06-20

Scientists Announce World's Most Sensitive Cancer Test

Speaking at the Institute of Physics conference Physics 2005 in Warwick recently (Tuesday 12th April), scientists revealed a new test for cancer, more sensitive than any existing technique and capable of predicting for the first time whether a tumour has spread.

Unlike existing techniques which rely on expert visual assessment or unreliable biochemical measurements, the "optical stretcher" tests the physical strength of each cell and can give a diagnosis using as few as 50 cells, allowing doctors to test for cancer where traditional biopsies are dangerous or even impossible. The ability to measure the progress of a cancer by examining only the primary tumour should reduce the number of unnecessary and traumatic mastectomies in women with breast cancer.

Professor Josef Käs and Dr Jochen Guck from the University of Leipzig have been developing the new procedure for several years and today described how the system is being tested, both to screen for oral cancers and in the "staging" of breast cancer tumours.

Professor Käs' technique for the first time uses a physical characteristic of each cell - its stretchiness or elasticity - instead of its biological make-up, to decide whether or not it's cancerous. Cancer cells tend to de-differentiate, losing the special characteristics of the organ where they started life. Because of this, they no longer need the rigid cytoskeleton which holds them in shape, making them stretchier than normal cells.
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