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11 October 2011
World leaders in the field of stem cells have gathered in Cardiff for a conference supported by the European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute (ECSCRI).
Stem cells are capable of renewing themselves over long periods and generating other cells with specific purposes in the body. Their discovery has opened up new possibilities in regenerative medicine, drug discovery, toxicology and disease modelling. They have also made possible research into cancer stem cells – the very heart of the ECSCRI’s purpose.
The research pioneers have been meeting at the National Museum of Wales for the Abcam Conference "Rediscovering Pluripotency: From Teratocarcinomas to Embryonic Stem Cells." The experts included Cardiff University’s President, Professor Sir Martin Evans, joint winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for his part in the discovery of embryonic stem cells. Other scientists who have made key contributions, from the UK, the US, Germany, Canada and Singapore, also attended to review the ideas behind past breakthroughs and to assess their relevance for future studies.
Professor Sir Martin said: "This is a very significant meeting, which has gathered many pioneers in the field. We are trying to give the next generation some feel of how we got started, and where this science can go next."
The University hosted a reception for conference delegates in the Viriamu Jones Gallery, Main Building, attended by the Lord Mayor of Cardiff, and former School of Biosciences Professor, Ifor Bowen. He said: "It’s a pleasure to be back at Cardiff and to see that research is still forging ahead. This conference is very timely and fits in with well with the aims of the European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute. I’m looking forward to some highly significant breakthroughs as the Institute moves forward."
Cancer stem cells share many properties with other stem cells. They may form a small, but vital part of tumours, starting and driving the growth of cancer. Research also suggests they are highly resistant to drugs and radiotherapy. By understanding the basic biology of embryonic and other stem cells, we may learn more about how to tackle cancer stem cells.
Professor Alan Clarke, Director of the European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute, said: "We know there may be more similarities between cancer stem cells and normal stem cells. We need further research to identify and characterise these cells and then identify therapeutic strategies which can single out and destroy them. The findings of the Abcam Conference will therefore be highly relevant to our work at the ECSCRI. We are delighted to have such an impressive research line-up here in Cardiff."
Conference organiser Abcam is a company specialising in antibody sourcing and production. The company mission is "...to build the largest online catalog of the best antibodies in the world" along with the best service and expert support. Abcam is passionate about science and runs topic-orientated conferences to help scientists progress with their research.
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