Scientists develop breast tissue in a lab to help them to better understand how the breast develops and what happens when things go awry in breast cancer.
Dr. Christina Scheel of the Helmholtz Center in Munich, who lead the research stated that this research aimed to understand how breast cancer cells acquire aggressive behaviors, as well as to elucidate how adult stem cells function in normal regeneration.
For the first time, scientists have taken healthy breast cells from women and isolated the stem cells that can recreate major breast structures—including the mammary gland that actually produce breast milk.
In a latest paper in the journal Development, they report that they’ve set up a model for studying how normal breast tissue develops during puberty and expect to introduce mutations in these cells to study how they might develop cancer.
Initiating with breast tissue from women who have had breast reduction surgery, Scheel’s team managed to isolate the few stem cells within them that are responsible for generating the new breast tissue that results in the breast’s constant remodeling during puberty, at each menstrual cycle and with each pregnancy.
Only one in about 2,000 of these cells are stem cells, but they were able to increase the growth of these cells by five-fold by mixing up a more nurturing culture solution. Stem cells always renew and remodel the breast throughout the lifespan of women to guarantee milk production for offsprings even after multiple pregnancies. Unfortunately, breast cancer cells are able to adopt properties of these stem cells to acquire aggressive traits.
With other adjustments, Scheel was also able to promote the growth of the cluster-like cells that produce milk. Through labeling the initial stem cell, they realized that all of the complex structures in the breast remarkably arose from a single cell, directed by the right developmental instructions.