Pitt Study Reveals Stem Cells In Esophagus

Nov 9, 2014

A new discovery by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine could impact the treatment of esophageal cancer and a condition known as Barrett’s esophagus.

In a study released in the current issue of Cell Reports, researchers found a pool of stem cells in the esophagus, something that was never considered before.

The study, which was done in mice, could unveil major implications if similar results are found in humans.

“Having an idea where the stem cells are and knowing how to isolate stem cells is a great first step to understand [Barrett’s esophagus] and eventually cancer,” Lagasse said.

Esophageal cancer will kill more than 15,000 people in 2014, according to statistics from the American Cancer Society. Barrett’s esophagus is a condition that often leads to cancer.

“The concept here is to go toward cancer and really try to understand the origin of esophageal cancer,” Lagasse said.

Lagasse said the study allows scientists to better understand cancer and the use of stem cells in regenerative medicine.

“The patient [who has] esophagus cancer might lose part of their esophagus,” Lagasse said. “You have to regenerate the esophagus tissue. Having a stem cell would be a great asset to start to work on that.”