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Health Agencies Update
July 18, 2001

Cancer Cells in Sheep's Clothing

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JAMA. 2001;286(3):295. doi:10.1001/jama.286.3.295

Like a scurrilous disguise artist, melanoma and ovarian cancer cells can change their clothing to mimic other cell types, reports a team from the University of Iowa College of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. The findings deepen the mystery of the genetic misfirings in cancer cells, said Mary Hendrix, PhD, president of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology and head of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at Iowa. "They're almost stem cell–like" in their ability to express characteristics of various cell types, said Hendrix. That's a clinical challenge, she added, because pathologists could misidentify the cells.

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