Unless you get rid of the cancer stem cells, chances are the cancer will come back and radiotherapy and chemotherapy alone won’t do it. Cancer stem cells are a subpopulation of tumor cells that survive chemotherapy because they are drug resistant and are now thought to be the driving force behind tumor regrowth.
Research on cancer stem cells is difficult because it is hard to find direct evidence after tumor regression with chemotherapy that the residual cancer cells are stem cells, and that the tumor grows again from them. This is due in part to the technical difficulty of isolating and identifying these residual cancer cells.
So the question arises: are the Pao pereira and Rauwolfia vomitoria extracts that are so effective against primary cancer cells also active against cancer stem cells? The research group we’ve been working with at Kansas University Medical Center is starting a new research program to address this question. Dr. Qi Chen will use an assay known as ‘tumor spheroid formation’ to determine whether the Pao pereira and Rauwolfia vomitoria plant extracts have any effect on cancer stem cells. The principle is that under a special cell culture condition(in vitro), that favors cancer stem cell growth, non-stem cells die, and only cancer stem cells survive and generate new cancer cells to form spheres surrounding the stem cells. So the number of spheres can be counted to represent how many cancer stem cells are there.
Preliminary data using this assay with both extracts have been extremely positive and if these results are reproducible the Beljanski Foundation will design and fund an in vivo experiment… Stay tuned!