In the past few years, scientists have drawn several parallels between stem cells and cancer cells. In tumor formation, formerly specialized tissue cells somehow become 'reprogrammed' to form tumor tissue. A similar reprogramming takes place in the creation of stem cells. Both types of cells also have an unusual ability to renew themselves. So what is it that lets a stem cell know it's a stem cell, and not a cancer cell?
In this segment, Joe Palca talks with stem cell researcher George Daley about the discovery of a protein that may help give stem cells their unusual multi-function abilities. The protein, named Lin-28, appears to help regulate the activity of certain small RNA molecules called “let-7 microRNAs” found in both stem cells and cancer.
Produced by Charles Bergquist, Director and Contributing Producer