London: Cells that are made cancerous by arsenic, send out signals that in turn make healthy stem cells become malignant, a new study has claimed.
Michael Waalkes and his colleagues at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, had noticed that tumours caused by arsenic contained strangely large number of cancer stem cells.
To find the reason behind this, the researchers turned cells from the human prostate gland cancerous with arsenic.
They did so before growing the cells in close proximity to, but not touching, healthy stem cells from the prostate.
Even though these cells hadn’t been exposed to arsenic themselves, within three weeks they had turned into cancer stem cells
According to Waalkes, a signalling molecule called interleukin-6 may be involved in this process.
“But I would not want to say it is the sole factor,” New Scientist quoted Waalkes as saying.