Welcome to the Peter Dirks Laboratory website. Dr. Dirks' lab has recently isolated and characterized a cancer stem cell from human brain tumours of different phenotypes that express neural stem cell markers and have stem cell-like behaviour in vitro and in vivo. These cells were isolated from both low grade and high grade primary brain tumours (astrocytoma, glioblastoma, ependymoma, medulloblastoma, anglioglioma) and represent only a small fraction of the total tumour cell population.
This subpopulation of tumour cells could be considered as cancer stem cells, because they share properties with normal neural stem cells and are necessary for maintaining tumour growth in vitro and in vivo. The identification of the brain tumour stem cell has important implications for understanding the mechanisms of brain tumourigenesis. Because this cell represents only a small number of the total number of cells in a brain tumour, it suggests that therapy that spares this cell may explain tumour recurrence. Studies of the brain tumour stem cell will lead to further insight into the normal brain cell that is the target for brain tumorigenesis.