Adding a specific gene to adult stem cells from bone marrow might be used to increase cancer resistance of transplant patients. A University of Kentucky team led by Dr. Vivek Rangnekar studied bone marrow adult stem cells from mice, that were genetically engineered to express a cancer-killing portion of a protein known as Par-4. Par-4 is a "tumor suppressor" protein that selectively induces cellular suicide (known as "apoptosis") in cancer cells, but not normal cells. The scientists found that the mice were resistant to the growth of various types of tumors. Further, the cancer resistance could be transferred to other, normal mice by a bone marrow adult stem cell transplant. The scientists said that optimizing the adult stem cell transplant of genetically modified cells might be used to treat various tumors, including metastatic tumors.

The study was published in the journal Cancer Biology & Therapy.