“The stem cells don’t behave at all in the way we’d previously thought, and are found in unexpected places,” says Professor Rune Toftgård, one of the scientists at Karolinska Institutet responsible for the study. “We’re now investigating the part played by the stem cells in the wound-healing process and the development of basal cell carcinoma, the most common form of skin cancer.”

The stem cells examined by the present study are found in the skin’s hair follicles, around which the cells are able to move depending on their stage of growth. The scientists believe that their growth is governed by previously known mechanism called Hedgehog signalling. Mutations in the genes that control this signal system can cause the delayed deactivation of signal transference; the signals thus continue uninhibited, which increases the risk of cancer.

Publication: “Lgr5marks cycling, yet long-lived, hair follicle stem cells”, Viljar Jaks, Nick Barker, Maria Kasper, Johan H van Es, Hugo J Snippert, Hans Clevers, Rune Toftgård, Nature Genetics, AOP 12 October 2008, doi 10.1038/ng.239.

For further information, please contact:

Professor Rune Toftgård
Tel: +46 (0)708-720533
Email: Rune.Toftgard@ki.se

Press Officer Katarina Sternudd
Tel: +46 (0)8-5248 3895 or +46 (0)70-224 3895
Email: Katarina.sternudd@ki.se

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